Cheshire CCGs slash NHS IVF
West, East and South Cheshire and Vale Royal CCGs have cut NHS IVF effective from 28 April. The cuts affect existing patients as well as new referrals.
West, East and South Cheshire and Vale Royal clinical commissioning groups are cutting the number of NHS-funded IVF cycles from 3 to 1, with some clinical exceptions, and introducing stricter eligibility criteria for access, with effect from 28 April.
The cuts affect existing patients as well as new referrals. If existing patients have already begun a cycle of IVF, they can complete it, but no further treatment would be offered after that. An IVF cycle is defined as the transfer of all fresh and frozen embryos resulting from that IVF cycle.
Susan Seenan, co-chair of campaign group Fertility Fairness said: ‘‘This is terrible news for patients and for NHS fertility services in England. These 4 Cheshire CCGs were among the best in the country: they were among the minority of England’s CCGs that offered 3 full cycles of IVF as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Six weeks ago, Scotland introduced the gold standard of fertility care: 3 full cycles of IVF for all eligible women under 40; it is a national disgrace that now just 13 per cent of England’s CCGs offer 3 full NHS-funded IVF cycles.’
Sarah Norcross, co-chair of Fertility Fairness, said: ‘We urge the UK Government and NHS England to stop this trend of disinvestment in NHS fertility services, and to commit to improving access to fertility treatment for people in England. Fertility Fairness urges the rest of the UK to follow the Scottish Government’s lead, and to take immediate action to stop the rationing of fertility treatment.’
Fertility Fairness’ updated 2016 audit of England’s 209 CCGs shows a marked reduction in access to NHS-funded IVF, with potential further cuts ahead. Five CCGs have decommissioned NHS IVF and provide 0 cycles (2.4 per cent); 61.2 per cent offer just 1 NHS IVF cycle; 23.4 per cent provide 2 NHS IVF cycles and just 12.9 per cent follow national guidance and offer 3 NHS-funded IVF cycles. Approaching one in ten CCGs (7 per cent) are currently consulting on reducing or decommissioning NHS fertility treatment.
West Cheshire CCG states eligible women aged 23-39 will receive 2 IVF ‘treatments’. This means that initially women will be offered 6 cycles of intrauterine insemination (IUI) and, if this is not successful, they will be offered 1 IVF cycle (which includes the transfer of all fresh and subsequent frozen embryos); women who are not clinically eligible for IUI will be offered 2 IVF cycles.
Further restrictions include:
additional restrictions around BMI and smoking status for male partners (the restrictions currently apply only to female partner);
the eligibility threshold for IVF for period of trying to conceive to be increased from 2 years to 3 years for unexplained infertility (age to be taken into account);
stopping routine funding of surgical sperm recovery, individual funding request for patients with genetic conditions;
stopping routine funding of donor oocyte cycle;
stopping routine funding of sperm insemination unless part of an IVF cycle.
Full details of West Cheshire’s policy are available at https://www.westcheshireccg.nhs.uk/document_uploads/documents/Subfertility-policy-%20WC%20CCG%202017-18%20Final.pdf
Full details of East Cheshire’s policy are available at http://www.easterncheshireccg.nhs.uk/downloads/publications/policies/commissioning/Subfertility%20Policy%20280417%20Final.pdf