IVF in line to be next in NHS cuts
FERTILITY treatments could be the latest victims of NHS cuts.
East Cheshire NHS bosses are planning to slash funding for In vitro fertilisation (IVF) as well as a raft of other treatments and surgeries as they battle a £10m budget black hole.
Among its proposals is to cut the number of IVF cycles for women aged 23 to 39 from three to either two or one. Women aged 40-42 will still get one cycle.
Health bosses are also looking to increase restrictions to IVF based on a patients’ Body Mass Index (BMI) and if they smoke, and only fund IVF after three years of unexplained infertility, an from two years.
Other plans are to completely stop offering four treatments: IVF using donor eggs or sperm; surgical sperm recovery; Intrauterine Insemination increase (IUI), and sterilisation for both men and women.
NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning group (CCG) has launched a joined consultation with Wirral, South Cheshire, Vale Royal and West Cheshire CCGs on the proposals until January 17.
In 2015-16 the CCG spent £400,000 on fertility treatment including IVF for 91 couples.
Dr Mike Clark, East Cheshire CCG clinical lead, said: “Our aim is to ensure that the services we provide are effective and sustainable while we continue to encourage people to lead healthier lives.
“It is important for us to make the best use of our resources and we are encouraging people to have their say.”
Health bosses claim East Cheshire is one of only 38 CCGs nationally still offering three cycles and that the chances of getting pregnant reduce with each round of IVF.
But campaign group Fertility Fairness has slammed the proposals.
Susan Seenan, join chair, said: “Infertility is a disease as recognised by the World Health Organisation and is deserving of treatment.
“Based on NICE guidelines it is unequivocally clear that three full cycles of IVF or ICSI should be provided to those in need.
“Reducing access to treatment and introducing restrictive access criteria would mark a drastic departure from these guidelines, and further exacerbate the postcode lottery of fertility services.
“If the policy change is approved, Eastern Cheshire would drop significantly in its performance relative to the rest of the country. This was a region that, until relatively recently, offered some of the best provision for fertility care in the UK.”
It is proposed that IVF treatment is reduced to one or two cycles instead of three