The chief executive of the UK’s leading fertility support charity has expressed concern over the mental health effect of reducing access to NHS IVF treatment
The warning comes as Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) made the decision to reduce the number of IVF cycles available on the NHS from three to just one, despite the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines which recommend three full cycles.
Bury was just one of a handful of CCGs that offered the full three cycles and so UK’s Fertility Network‘s chief executive, Aileen Feeney has told of her deep disappointment to the decision.
She said in a statement released on the charity’s website: “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.
She said not treating fertility problems properly costs the NHS a lot more money, due to the 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.
She added: “There is a 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, agreed and said she was ‘appalled by the announcement.
She 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.”
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