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Bedfordshire CCG considers removing all funding for IVF

18 April 2016
Appeared in BioNews 847

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is consulting the public on whether to remove all funding for IVF treatment, apart from for special medical exceptions.

Bedfordshire CCG currently provides one NHS-funded cycle for eligible patients. Current guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that eligible patients under the age of 40 should be offered three fully funded IVF or ICSI cycles.

Although NICE has sought to remind CCGs of its evidence-based recommendation to fund treatment (see BioNews 754 and 777), the guidance is not mandatory and the number of cycles offered by CCGs differs across the country. CCGs may choose to not to offer funding for IVF, but they must give reasons for their decision (see BioNews 751).

A spokeswoman from the Bedfordshire CCG stated that they were 'not considering a blanket ban on any of these services, as in any event, provision would be made for special medical exceptions.'

Sarah Norcross, co-chair of Fertility Fairness and director of the Progress Educational Trust, which publishes BioNews, countered this argument on BBC Radio 5 Live. She questioned how the CCG would decide what constituted a special medical exception, arguing that these exceptions would be so rare that they would operate as a blanket ban in practice.

According to its spokeswoman, Bedfordshire CCG is evaluating fertility treatment in order to 'ensure good quality, good outcomes, value for money and … [an] equitable way of allocating resources.' As there is no standardised cost, each cycle of IVF can cost the NHS between £1,400 and £6000.

Susan Seenan, Fertility Fairness co-chair said: 'We are calling on the government to act now to make it clear that, while clinical commissioning groups have to operate within their financial budgets and consider the needs of their local healthcare population, they should not be implementing blanket restrictions on services.'

Bedfordshire CCG is not the first to consider removing all funding for IVF treatment. Mid-Essex CCG, North-East Essex CCG, and South Norfolk CCG have already stopped funding IVF or ICSI cycles.

Fertility Fairness has previously presented data showing that only 17 percent of CCGs in England offer the recommended three NHS-funded cycles.

Afternoon Edition
BBC Radio 5 Live (interview) |  12 April 2016
Campaign group fighting for IVF rights for Bedford families as service faces cutbacks
Bedfordshire News |  11 April 2016
Families face paying more for IVF with less NHS fertility treatment available
ITV News |  12 April 2016
Is the NHS rationing IVF? Just 1 in 6 health boards are now offering the recommended three cycles
Mail Online |  11 April 2016
Step in and stop blanket bans on NHS IVF, Fertility Fairness urges Government
Fertility Fairness (press release) |  11 April 2016
4 October 2021 - by Blair Sowry 
The Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group is to hold a public consultation regarding the provision of fertility treatment in the area...
12 December 2016 - by Richard Clothier 
How the experience of being denied IVF on the NHS turned one man into a campaigner determined to improve the situation for the thousands of other infertile people...
28 November 2016 - by Ari Haque 
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26 September 2016 - by Lone Hørlyck 
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28 February 2016 - by Rikita Patel 
Somerset CCG has announced that its provision of NHS-funded IVF will be reduced from two cycles to one...
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 
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5 October 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
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8 December 2014 - by Sean Byrne 
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