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Bury cuts NHS IVF

Bury CCG is cutting the number of IVF cycles it offers from 3 to just 1 for new patients, effective from 1 October 2018

Bury CCG is cutting the number of IVF cycles it offers from three to just one for new patients, effective from 1 October 2018.

Aileen Feeney, chief executive of leading patient charity Fertility Network and co-chair of Fertility Fairness  said: ‘We are extremely concerned about the effect that reducing access to NHS IVF will have on already distressed patients. Infertility is a devastating disease which can cause depression, suicidal feelings, relationship breakdown and social isolation; removing the recommended medical help is cruel and economically short-sighted. Not treating fertility problems properly costs the NHS a lot of money: through an increase in life-long mental health problems, and by increasing the likelihood that more patients will travel abroad for reduced cost fertility treatment – a move that is highly likely to drive up the number of multiple births which are of high risk to mother and babies and incur additional long-term medical costs. These costs could be saved if national guidelines were followed.’

Sarah Norcross, co-chair of Fertility Fairness said: ‘Fertility Fairness is appalled that Bury health bosses have cut the number of NHS-funded IVF cycles available to patients in the area from three to just one cycle, when the national recommendation is for three full IVF cycles for women under 40. Access to fertility treatment should be dependent on your medical need – and not your postcode or pay packet. It is even more disappointing that they have chosen to cut provision rather than try to reduce the amount they are paying to providers of the service. Bury was one of only 11.5 per cent of clinical commission groups that funded the nationally recommended three full IVF cycles.’

More information about the cuts is available here.

If your are affected by the cuts and would like to speak to the media about this, email Catherine Hill at media@fertilitynetworkuk.org

  1. National Institute of health and care excellence (NICE) guidance recommends three full cycles of IVF for women under 40 years and one full cycle for women aged 40-42. According to NICE, a full cycle of IVF treatment should include one round of ovarian stimulation, followed by the transfer of any resultant fresh and frozen embryos.

In Scotland, women under 40, including couples with children from previous relationships, can access three IVF cycles; in Wales, women under 40 are entitled to two cycles and in Northern Ireland, women under 40 are offered one cycle.

  1. There is a move towards sustained disinvestment in NHS fertility services in England. Fertility Fairness’ updated 2017 audit of England’s 208 CCGs shows a marked reduction in access to NHS-funded IVF, with potential further cuts ahead. The vast majority of England’s CCGs – 88 per cent – do not follow national guidance and do not offer 3 NHS-funded IVF cycles. Seven CCGs have decommissioned NHS IVF or suspended and provide 0 cycles ( 3.4 per cent); 62 per cent offer just 1 NHS IVF cycle; 24 per cent provide 2 NHS IVF cycles and just 12 per cent follow national guidance and offer 3 NHS-funded IVF cycles. Approaching one in ten CCGs is currently consulting on reducing or decommissioning NHS fertility treatment.
  2. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Scientific Impact Paper, Multiple Pregnancies following Assisted Conception, noted that Government funding of IVF is the most important factor that could maintain low rates of multiple pregnancies following treatment and reduce associated complications for mothers and babies, as well as costs to the NHS. It estimated the neonatal cost to the NHS for twins to be 16 times higher than that for a singleton baby, and noted the effect of fertility tourism on the risk of multiple births following IVF. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-0528.14974/full
  3. Key findings of The Impact of Fertility Problems 2016 from Fertility Network UK with Middlesex University London[1] highlighted: 90 per cent of respondents reported feeling depressed; 42% suicidal; nearly 50% of respondents reported on average feeling sad, out of control, frustrated, helpless, fearful and worried nearly all of the time.  For further information, see http://fertilitynetworkuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/SURVEY-RESULTS-Impact-of-Fertility-Problems.pdf
  4. Fertility Fairness is a multidisciplinary umbrella organisation representing the major patient and professional bodies working in the field of fertility. Fertility Fairness campaigns for fair and equitable access to NHS-funded fertility services in accordance with national recommendations issued by NICE. This includes the right of eligible couples to receive up to three full cycles of IVF treatment regardless of where they happen to live.

[1] http://fertilitynetworkuk.org/survey-on-the-impact-of-fertility-problems/