IVF in line to be next in NHS cuts

Macclesfield Express - - HOSPITAL SPECIAL REPORT - STU­ART GREER

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

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