NHS Funding for IVF – access should be ‘fair and equal’

Just 24 hours before Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (C&PCCG) were due to meet to consider the reinstatement of NHS funding for fertility treatment in the county, it announced it has postponed its decision until 6 August. Bourn Hall hopes the delayed decision will result in positive outcomes for all.

IVF treatment should be full NICE guidelines

The delay is in light of a letter received by the C&PCCG from Department of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price about the commissioning of IVF services.

Jackie Doyle Price MP writes: “I cannot emphasise enough that it is not acceptable for CCGs to offer no routine access to fertility services. All CCGs should move towards full implementation of the NICE fertility guidelines recommendations”

Successful NHS funded IVF in Cambridgeshire 

Bourn Hall Clinic provides NHS funded IVF treatment across the East of England and is the only provider with clinics based in the region. Bourn Hall has been providing NHS funded IVF treatment successfully for over ten years with many patients achieving a pregnancy on their first attempt and 8 out 10 of these Bourn Hall patients will have a baby after three cycles.

Dr. Thanos Papathanasiou, lead clinician at Bourn Hall Clinic, responded to the announcement:

“We welcome the Minister’s letter which recommends fair and equal access to fertility services. The NICE guidelines recommend that three cycles is the most clinically and cost-effective way to deliver IVF for patients and we have solid evidence of this. Prior to 2014, when Bourn Hall was able to offer up to three NHS funded cycles to Cambridgeshire patients,Cambridge IVF NHS success rates graphic (branded) that met the NHS eligibility requirements, 8 out of 10 patients had a baby.

“Cutting funding for IVF in Cambridgeshire has been devastating for so many people. Infertility is a serious health issue that impacts emotional and mental wellbeing, and pushes relationships to breaking point. The current postcode lottery of a system is leaving people in limbo without any resolution.

“From our experience in Norfolk, providing a fully integrated fertility pathway for the NHS (including advice, diagnosis and treatment), we know that the current patient pathway in Cambridgeshire could be streamlined – helping to increase natural pregnancy rates and save costs.

“The savings Bourn Hall could offer the CCG by providing a more cost effective pathway could be used to mitigate the costs of reinstating NHS funding for IVF.

“We hope this delay in decision making will give us the opportunity to meet with the CCG and discuss our suggested improvements to the fertility journey and improve patient outcomes for all.”

Guidelines from Department of Health

The Department of Health & Social Care has been working with HFEA to provide guidelines to make the provision of fertility treatment including IVF more consistent across the country.

NICE guideline recommendations CG156:

  • Women under 40 should receive three full cycles of IVF
  • Women aged 40–42 who meet the criteria should receive one full cycle of IVF.

Key points of Jackie Doyle Price’s letter

  • Infertility is a disease and recognised as such by mainstream health organisations
  • HFEA has provided commissioning guidelines, which includes a benchmark price for IVF
  • Ensure that fertility services promote fair and equal access and obtain best value for money

Strong track record 

Bourn Hall is the world’s first IVF clinic and has 40 years of knowledge of infertility and fertility treatment and has developed highly patient-focussed treatments.

It continues to innovate and where benefits are seen to provide evidence-based treatments for its patients and further improvements to its treatment pathways.

More information

Does your CCG fund IVF treatment? – have a look at our helpful map.

Bourn Hall founder Professor Robert Edwards campaigned for NHS support for IVF

Free fertility advice – consultation with fertility nurse specialist to discuss your options 

HFEA guidelines (pdf hosted on hfea.gov.uk)

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