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CCG plans to cut IVF for new and existing patients

18 July 2016
Appeared in BioNews 860

Basildon and Brentwood CCG is proposing to cut its provision of fertility treatment for new and existing patients.

The proposal is part of a wider package of cuts to services aimed at reducing the CCG's £14m budget deficit for 2016-17. If implemented, fertility procedures, including IVF and the storage of gametes for cancer patients, would no longer be funded except under exceptional circumstances.

Other services at risk under its Service Restriction Policy include male and female sterilisation, routine cosmetic and bariatric surgery and prescriptions for gluten-free food and e-cigarettes.

Sarah Norcross, commissioning editor of BioNews and co-chair of Fertility Fairness, which campaigns for fair and equitable access to NHS-funded fertility treatment, said: 'The announcement today is appalling. For people not to realise it is a health need is, I think, insulting to all those facing fertility problems.'

However, John Leslie, of the Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: 'We have a legal duty to live within our means.'

The CCG, which currently offers the full three cycles of IVF recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), states that no decision has yet been made following its 2015 consultation on its proposal to cease funding fertility treatment altogether, which requires approval by the CCG Board (see also BioNews 826).

However, if the decision were to be approved, then the CCG said it would continue to fund the diagnosis of fertility problems, but patients who have not already been referred will no longer be able to be referred. It is currently consulting on its proposals to cut funding for existing patients who have already been referred for fertility treatment or who are already receiving treatment.

Under the proposals for existing patients, those who are currently receiving IVF would only be funded to complete their current cycle and would not be offered any further treatment that they may have been eligible for under the CCG's existing policy. 

Susan Seenan, co-chair of Fertility Fairness, said: 'Fertility Fairness is appalled at what Basildon and Brentwood clinical commissioning group is proposing. You cannot tell patients they will receive treatment and then remove their chance of having a baby from them. To do so is unethical and distressing in the extreme.'

NICE recommends that eligible patients under 40 years old receive up to three cycles of IVF treatment. However, although the body is responsible for issuing evidence-based recommendations on the provision of health service, the guidelines are not mandatory, and many CCGs offer less, with some offering no provision at all. The latest data from Fertility Fairness shows that less than one in five CCGs in England currently offer the full three cycles, a fall of seven percent since 2013.

On its website, Basildon and Brentwood CCG adds that its decision 'supports transparency and equity of approach to the population' and 'reduces the perception that for some people we are funding fully in line with NICE Guidance whilst for others not supporting funding at all'.

23 January 2017 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
Steve McCabe MP has led a parliamentary debate on the variable provision of fertility treatments across the UK, calling for a revision to how fertility services are funded and provided...
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 
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...
19 September 2016 - by Professor Roy Homburg and Dr Gulam Bahadur 
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidance on the use of IUI that displays a plethora of contradictions and inconsistencies in an effort to maintain the status quo, precluding a fair appraisal of IUI practice...
20 June 2016 - by Stephen Harbottle 
Since its launch in 1948, the NHS has become the world's largest publicly funded health service and a beacon of what is possible to the rest of the world. Unless, it seems, you are finding it hard to conceive...
13 June 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Scotland is set to expand the provision of publicly funded IVF, increasing the number of cycles for eligible patients from two to three...
18 April 2016 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is consulting the public on whether to remove all funding for IVF treatment, apart from for special medical exceptions...
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...
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...
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