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North East Essex CCG cuts IVF funding

5 October 2015
Appeared in BioNews 822

North East Essex CCG has announced that it is ending its IVF funding, and fertility treatment will only be available to specific groups of patients.

Until February, the CCG had funded three cycles of IVF for patients up to the age of 40. Since then, it has funded two cycles for women aged up to 39 and one cycle for women aged 40 to 42.

The latest decision, which was reached by the CCG board following a consultation, means that only patients whose fertility is compromised by surgical or cancer treatment will be able to receive IVF and fertility preservation on the NHS.

ICSI will also be available in circumstances where the male partner has a chronic viral infection that could be transmitted to the mother or child.

The decision is part of a range of restrictions implemented by the CCG, which are intended to save £14m annually for four years.

Acting Chief Officer Sam Hepplewhite said: 'None of us want to make these restrictions but we are having to do so in light of extremely challenging financial circumstances.'

The decision to restrict IVF services means the CCG's provision is inconsistent with NICE guidance, which recommends three full IVF/ICSI cycles for women up to the age of 39 and one cycle for women aged 40–42.

Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust and co-chair of Fertility Fairness, said: 'Out of 209 CCGs in England, only two have completely removed their funding for IVF and they are both in Essex. If other CCGs – which are equally cash-strapped – are able to fund IVF for infertile couples, why is North East Essex CCG unable to deliver even a basic level of provision?'

She added: 'It is wrong that among the one in six couples who struggle with infertility only the well off in North East Essex should have the opportunity to become parents.'

The CCG states that it plans to review the restrictions in 12 months' time.

CCG decides to implement service restriction proposals
North East Essex CCG (press release) |  30 September 2015
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North Essex NHS service cuts off IVF treatments
Essex County Standard |  2 October 2015
The only way is not Essex – county alone in slashing NHS fertility services
Brentwood Gazette |  30 September 2015
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