IVF services could be cut in Stockport under new proposals
Health bosses are looking at the possibility of cutting the service back to one course or not offering the treatment at all, citing 'financial pressures'
Fertility treatment for women could be reduced or scrapped altogether under savings proposals being considered by Stockport health chiefs.
Currently women under 40 who have been unable to conceive are entitled to two free cycles of IVF on the NHS.
But bosses are now looking at the possibility of cutting this back to one course or not offering the treatment at all, citing ‘financial pressures’.
Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched a public consultation proposing to reduce provision to one funded cycle of IVF for women under the age of 40.
This would bring it into line with several other Greater Manchester authorities, including Rochdale, Oldham and Trafford and could save more than £1m over the next five years.
But bosses are also asking for people’s opinions on pulling funding for IVF altogether and – at the other end of the scale – continuing to offer two cycles of treatment.
The move is likely to prove controversial – last year Trafford was forced into a climbdown amid claims its plans to axe fertility treatment would have a devastating impact.
And campaign groups such as Fertility Fairness say 90 per cent of women unable to access IVF treatment suffer from depression and anxiety.
They also oppose a ‘post-code’ lottery, given the number of IVF cycles available varies depending on where people live.
But Dr Cath Briggs, the GP clinical chair of Stockport CCG said bosses were ‘facing real financial challenges’ and had to ensure public money was spent in a way that would have the greatest benefit.
She added: “All of our services are important, from cancer, GPs, accident and emergency, and maternity to children’s services, mental health and many more.
“However, we do need to identify if there are areas were savings can be made. That means we may need to make some difficult decisions. It’s simply not possible for us to fund everything as we’d like to.
“As a consequence, we are reviewing all of our services and one area we are considering is whether the number of IVF cycles should continue to be funded as they currently are.
“We appreciate that infertility is a very personal issue for those affected but that is the case for many of the services we offer.”
At present only Tameside and Glossop is the only CCG in Greater Manchester that continues to offer three cycles of IVF; Wigan, Salford and Stockport provide two and the remaining five boroughs one.