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Mid Essex CCG cuts IVF funding

29 September 2014
Appeared in BioNews 773

Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced it will no longer be funding IVF except under 'clinically exceptional circumstances'.

The decision means that women and couples in Braintree, Maldon, and Chelmsford will have to pay to receive fertility treatment at private clinics. Mid Essex CCG had previously funded three cycles of IVF for infertile couples, meeting the national guidelines as set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The CCG, which says it is one of the most financially challenged organisations in England, has made the cuts as part of a drive to save money.

Dr Caroline Dollery, who chairs Mid Essex CCG, said: 'It has been an incredibly tough decision for the CCG Board to make as we aware it will be a huge disappointment for people affected by fertility issues in mid Essex. But at this moment in time the CCG needs to make £8 million in savings and further savings next year'.

The decision has been met with outrage from organisations campaigning for equal access to fertility treatment.

'What the CCG has done is totally appalling. Infertility has a huge impact on people’s lives, and denying them access to medical treatment which can help is cruel, unfair, and totally unjustified', said Susan Seenan, chief executive of patient charity Infertility Network UK. 'In a national health service, no one should be denied medical help because of where they live, and yet that is exactly what mid Essex CCG has done'.

'We urge the CCG to reinstate services at the first opportunity', said Sarah Norcross, co-chair of campaign group Fertility Fairness and director of the Progress Educational Trust, the organisation that publishes BioNews. 'The cost of fertility treatment is a tiny fraction of this CCG's total annual budget but it is viewed as a line in the budget that is easy to cut'.

Fertility clinics in Essex also spoke of their disappointment, with some labelling the decision a 'devastating blow'. 'The impact of this decision will undoubtedly cause immense heartbreak to many within our community', said Andy Glew, director of Chelmsford clinic Simply Fertility.

The CCG says it will continue to fund surgery and drugs for ovarian stimulation, but 'will only fund specialist fertility services in exceptional clinical cases' although it is unclear what the criteria will be. In July this year, the CCG published a proposal to offer fertility treatment solely to cancer patients and HIV-positive men (as reported in BioNews 764).

Dr Donald McGeachy, medical director of Mid Essex CCG, told ITV News: 'We have consulted with the public over the last 12 weeks. Most of them haven't agreed with what we've done, but equally we don't have a whole lot of other areas where we can try to save this money'.

Fertility treatments limited to 'patients at risk'
BBC News |  25 September 2014
IVF consultation statement
Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group |  29 September 2014
IVF cutbacks will stop free treatment for some couples in Essex
ITV News |  25 September 2014
IVF to be limited to people 'at risk' in Essex
Essex Chronicle |  26 September 2014
Mid Essex CCG Slashes Funding for IVF Despite National Guidance
Fertility Fairness |  26 September 2014
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The director of the Progress Educational Trust talks to ITV News and BBC Look East about plans to reinstate NHS-funded IVF...
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5 October 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has announced that it is ending its IVF funding, and fertility treatment will only be available to specific groups of patients...
30 March 2015 - by Vicky Whitehead 
In England, the IVF postcode lottery impacts on every different level of a patient's NHS treatment in a myriad of ways. Not only is there widespread variation in who can access treatment and the number of IVF cycles available, but even in how a cycle is defined...
27 October 2014 - by Sean Byrne 
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a quality standard that aims to bring an end to a 'postcode lottery' in the provision of fertility services on the NHS, which it says is restricting access to treatment....
22 September 2014 - by Rebecca Carr 
Research conducted by the campaign group Fertility Fairness has uncovered significant variations in the amount that NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups are paying for one cycle of IVF treatment....
28 July 2014 - by Ruth Retassie 
Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has proposed to limit access to IVF to cancer patients and HIV-positive men under its options for reform to the funding of its fertility services....
9 June 2014 - by Purvi Shah 
The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed in principle to fund IVF treatment for couples in the area, although a formal decision on the matter will be made at a later date....
23 May 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
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