From November 2017, patients will no longer be able to receive IVF at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM), Southmead Hospital.
North Bristol NHS Trust has decided to end the provision of IVF treatment, though patients will still have access to fertility assessments, investigations and surgery. A consultation about the recommissioning of assisted conception services, and the service specifications will run until 30 June 2017.
'Following a strategic review in 2016, the Trust has decided to stop providing specialist licensed fertility services from November 2017 in order to focus on its core activity of providing acute NHS services. General infertility services including diagnosis and investigation will however continue to be provided by the Trust as normal,' read a statement from the South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
North Bristol NHS Trust says that the change is due to a rise in the number of couples paying for their own IVF treatment, with a reduction in the number of patients at the clinic receiving their treatment on the NHS. These changes have resulted from the reduction in numbers of funded cycles and restrictions on eligibility by local CCGs.
This decision to close the clinic may mean that patients need to travel considerable distances to receive IVF treatment. However, according to the BBC, the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs deny claims that patients would need to travel outside the region. A spokesperson said: 'The proposed location of services will be taken into account when assessing bids by prospective providers as we would not want patients to travel any further than is necessary for treatment.'
The BCRM has provided fertility treatment to couples since 2008. The CCG has confirmed that fertility services at the BCRM will be transferred to a new provider from December 2017.
BCRM patients who are currently undergoing treatment, or in the treatment planning stage, will still be able to complete their cycles. gametes and embryos currently in storage at this facility will continue to be stored by a licensed regulated provider.