Page URL:

Somerset cuts IVF funding to one cycle only

28 February 2016
Appeared in BioNews 841

Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced that its provision of NHS-funded IVF will be reduced from two cycles to one. It has also said that IVF will no longer be available to people where one partner has a child from a previous or current relationship.

The CCG says that its new IVF eligibility criteria, which will come into practice in April this year, are part of an effort to reduce waiting times for fertility treatment from three to two years. However, the decision to limit access to fertility treatment is not in keeping with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance, which although not mandatory, is based on cost and clinical effectiveness.

The NICE fertility guidelines, issued in 2004 and revised in 2013, state that all eligible couples, in which a woman is under the age of 40, should receive three cycles of IVF. Further, women aged 40-42 may access one full IVF cycle, provided that certain criteria are met. A CCG must provide clear reasons for any policy that does not follow NICE's recommendations.

Yet, despite being told to end the IVF 'postcode lottery' by NICE (see BioNews 754), fewer than one in five CCGs are fully compliant with the guidance (see BioNews 826).

Fertility Fairness, which campaigns for equal access to NHS-funded fertility services in the UK, says the disparity in the provision of NHS fertility services in England is widening and that the south west of England has the lowest provision of fertility services. CCGs in Cornwall, Devon, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Dorset, and now Somerset are all offering just one funded IVF cycle.
Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust, the charity which publishes BioNews, and co-chair of Fertility Fairness, said:  'The south west is now a fertility blackspot. In the south west region, 90 percent of CCGs offer just one funded cycle of IVF; across England as a whole, 57 percent of CCGs offer one cycle of NHS-funded fertility treatment.'

Figures produced by Fertility Fairness show that between 2013 and 2015 the number of CCGs offering three cycles has fallen from 24 percent to 18 percent, while those offering one cycle increased from 49 percent to 57 percent.

Somerset CCG said that it will review its fertility policy after two years.

BBC Somerset: Claire Carter
BBC Radio Somerset (interview at 37:07) |  25 February 2016
IVF cuts in Somerset criticised by campaigners
BBC News |  25 February 2016
IVF: South West England has become fertility blackspot, campaigners say
The Independent |  25 February 2016
Somerset ignores patients and public to slash NHS IVF – making the South West a fertility black spot
Fertility Fairness (press release) |  25 February 2016
6 November 2017 - by Sarah Norcross 
Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust and Co-Chair of the campaigning organisation Fertility Fairness, speaks on TV and radio about worsening access to publicly funded IVF...
26 June 2017 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
From November 2017, patients will no longer be able to receive IVF at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Southmead Hospital...
12 December 2016 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
Only 16 percent of Clinical Commissioning Groups in England follow the national guidance on access to NHS fertility treatment, according to an audit by campaign group Fertility Fairness...
28 November 2016 - by Ari Haque 
Basildon and Brentwood CCG has announced that it will no longer provide fertility treatment, including IVF on the NHS to new patients...
26 September 2016 - by Lone Hørlyck 
Thirteen Clinical Commissioning Groups are considering making cuts to IVF funding, potentially removing the procedure on the NHS in some areas...
15 February 2016 - by Ryan Ross 
A third of general practitioners believe that the NHS should not fund IVF treatment, according to a recent poll...
2 November 2015 - by Rebecca Carr 
The number of CCGs in England offering the recommended number of IVF cycles to its patients is falling, with two CCGs in Essex decommissioning their assisted conception services altogether...
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...
8 December 2014 - by Sean Byrne 
The NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed to fund one cycle of IVF, having at one time been the only CCG not to offer the treatment at all after funding was suspended in 2010....
29 September 2014 - by Siobhan Chan 
Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has announced it will no longer be funding IVF except under 'clinically exceptional circumstances'...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.