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IVF treatment may be restricted to 30-35s

7 August 2017
Appeared in BioNews 912

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the Bristol region are the first to propose restricting NHS-funded IVF treatment to women aged 30 to 35 years.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester CCGs are asking for public feedback on the proposal to change their current policy, which says that women up to the age of 40 years can receive fertility treatment on the NHS provided they meet all other eligibility criteria.

In a statement for the CCGs, a spokesperson said that the proposals had been drafted on the basis that 'clinical evidence shows that treatment between the ages of 30-35 offers the highest possible chance of success.'

The CCGs also propose that the prospective father or female partner in the case of a same-sex couple should be younger than 52 years, and that neither partner should have any living children.

The changes are needed to save money to be able to 'live within [their] means', say the CCGs.

The current recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is that women under 40 years should be offered up to three cycles of IVF, if they have been trying to conceive for two years.

Elsewhere in the country, CCGs are proposing to cut NHS funding for IVF treatment altogether.

Budget pressures in East and North Hertfordshire, Herts Valley and the West Essex CCG regions have led to proposals to reduce or cut IVF funding completely, and the Southend CCG region is also reviewing its current policy on IVF with a view to making potentially drastic cuts.

Dr Mike Macnamee, chief executive officer of Bourn Hall, a fertility clinic that provides NHS-funded IVF treatment in the Hertfordshire regions, said that there has been no discussion with any CCG so far about how IVF could be delivered more effectively.

'A more integrated approach that would involve GPs and fertility specialists working more closely together would streamline the system, create better outcomes and be more cost-effective for the CCGs,' he said, adding that infertility is a medical condition that 'deserves better diagnosis' at an 'earlier stage'.

The Bristol-area consultation will run until 15 September 2017.

11 September 2017 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group has removed funding for free IVF treatment, despite being the county where the procedure was first developed 40 years ago...
14 August 2017 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
Funding cuts by the UK's National Health Service has meant that 13 areas in England have restricted or halted IVF treatment since the start of 2017, according to Fertility Network UK...
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...
20 March 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Croydon has become the first Clinical Commissioning Group in London to cut funding for all IVF treatment, other than in 'exceptional circumstances'...
27 February 2017 - by Georgia Everett 
Women over the age of 34 will no longer be entitled to receive IVF funded by the NHS in some areas of Nottinghamshire...
20 February 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
New proposals from Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) could see NHS-funded IVF treatment available only in 'exceptional circumstances', such as for patients with HIV or cancer...
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