A decision by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS CCG to cease all specialist fertility services has been slammed by fertility campaigners
The clinical commissioning group announced the decision at a meeting held on August 6 in which it was confirmed, following a review, it would continue with its current policy of offering no IVF provision for the foreseeable future.
The only exception will be cancer patients being offered cryopreservation, specialist endocrinology services and sperm washing.
Senior management have blamed financial constraints for the decision and in a statement said its financial position had not improved since the original decision to suspend services was made in September 2017.
“It is a difficult decision”
Dr Gary Howsam, clinical chairman of the CCG, said: “Clinicians and managers alike acknowledge that this was a difficult decision to make and would have an impact on individuals and their families, but that in the current financial climate, it was not reasonable to reinstate the service. The Governing Body has committed to reviewing the decision as and when the CCG is operating in a financial surplus position.
“Anyone with fertility problems can still go to their GP who can discuss the treatment options available to them. Couples can still be referred to hospital for further tests to investigate the cause of their infertility, and many of these causes can be successfully treated without the need to go on to have IVF.”
The guideline recommend CCGs should offer infertility sufferers three full IVF cycles but as it is only a guideline, CCGs do not have to enforce it.
In a leaked letter released last month, former health minister MP Jackie Doyle-Price, said: “It is unfair to patients with infertility, who have every right to expect NHS service based on clinical need. And it does untold damage to the reputation of the NHS we hold so dear.”
She said that infertility can cause ‘great psychological distress’ and told CCGs to review their policies in light of new guidance from the fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
She said: “I cannot emphasise enough that it is not acceptable for CCGs to offer no routine access to fertility services. All CCGs should move towards the full implementation of the NICE guideline recommendations. I urge you to grasp this opportunity to end the lottery of fertility treatment once and for all.”
“The CCG is ignoring the devastation infertility wreaks”
Gwenda Burns, acting co-chairwoman of Fertility Fairness and head of charity operations, Fertility Network UK, said: ‘This is a cruel, unfair decision: infertility affects 3.5 million people and has a far-reaching impact: 90 percent of people are depressed and 42 per cent feel suicidal. It is appalling that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG is ignoring the devastation infertility wreaks and refusing to allow access to NHS treatment.”
Currently 88 per cent of CCGs across the UK do not offer the recommended three cycles for women under the age of 40. Five CCGs do not offer any fertility treatment at all.
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