NHS funding for Cambridge IVF treatment has been cut, it was announced by the Cambridge and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group last night (5 September 2017) despite overwhelming public opposition.
The news will be heartbreaking to many people who have been waiting to hear if they will be referred for IVF treatment. The decision does not affect those that have already been referred.
Dr Mike Macnamee, CEO Bourn Hall Clinic, says: “It is very sad that the CCG has decided to cut all funding for IVF as we know this will be devastating to many people. Infertility is a recognised disease and impacts the quality of life for those affected and their wider families.“
Information given by the CCG during the consultation process about the cost of IVF was misleading. This was challenged by Healthwatch Cambridgeshire, a patient advocacy group, and also by patients who said they had paid less for self-funded treatment so the figures must be incorrect.
The price the NHS pays for IVF treatment is agreed through competitive tender and based on a strictly prescribed package. It is the same for all CCGs across the region, the majority of whom have maintained the service.
Dr Macnamee comments: “During the consultation the figures given for the cost of IVF varied widely and so too were the numbers given of patients treated. Without clarification of these costs it seems unlikely that the CCG will achieve the level of savings claimed, which at best is less than 0.006% of its annual budget.”
“IVF is more expensive in the UK than other countries because of strict regulations ensuring very high standards of expertise and care. Removing the funding will encourage more people to go overseas increasing the chance of multiple births. Just three sets of triplets will wipe out any saving.”
NHS funding for Cambridge IVF treatment
The success rates for NHS IVF patients treated at Bourn Hall are very high, with 8 out of 10 patients having a baby after the three cycles of treatment. The level recommended as clinically and cost-effective by the national commission group NICE.
Bourn Hall provides a range of fertility treatments, not just IVF, and for many people lifestyle advice or medication will be sufficient to boost their natural fertility. Research has shown that many people do not currently receive this type of advice or adequate fertility testing and this is set to become less available following the IVF cuts.
Dr Macnamee is also concerned over comments made about NHS fertility services by Dr Gary Howsam, Clinical Chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, following the announcement of the decision:
“Dr Howsam’s reassurance that basic fertility services and testing in the NHS is adequately provided for is starkly contradicted by the average waiting time for a first appointment at Addenbrookes of over 200 days from GP referral.”
This has led Bourn Hall to offer, for a limited period, free consultations.
Free fertility consultation
Bourn Hall is the world’s first IVF clinic, set up by IVF pioneers Steptoe and Edwards. Dr Macnamee says: “With our unique track record in fertility treatment we are in a strong position to help advise the CCG on creating an integrated service that will improve fertility care cost-effectively and help people at an earlier stage.
“Only a small number of people require IVF there are many ways that natural fertility can be boosted.
“In response to this decision for a limited period we are offering a free consultation with a fertility nurse specialist to give advice on a range of measures that can be used to help people become parents.”
More information about the consultation and impact on patients
To read the post-consultation report click here – note page 13 which confirms that patients already referred will be given IVF treatment and also page 16 which gives a correction on the quoted costs for treatment.
To read the response from Healthwatch Cambridgeshire, click here.
How Bourn Hall is trying to make IVF more accessible
Get advice – If you are concerned about your fertility then attend a free Bourn Hall Fertility Roadshow that includes a complimentary personal mini consultation. Also for a limited period we are offering a free Fertility Health and Wellbeing initial consultation with a fertility nurse specialist – just phone 01954 717210 to book your appointment.
Get tested – As funding for IVF is cut we also notice that less NHS testing is occurring – a fertility test for you and your partner will reveal if there are any underlying issues; if there are none, then lifestyle advice or a short course of medication to boost your egg production might be sufficient to improve your chances of conception. Fertility tests can be completed within one menstrual cycle and there is no waiting list.
Consider your options – IVF might seem an expensive treatment, but the cost can be spread over time or the risk reduced with multi-cycle packages or a money-back guarantee if you are unsuccessful. We have teamed up with Access Fertility to help make treatment more affordable.
Free IVF if you or a friend donates – For some couples using their own eggs or sperm is not an option and they need to use donated gametes. Individuals that donate eggs or sperm are able to gift free treatment to themselves or to a friend. Full implications counselling is required and you would need to meet certain criteria. More details are available here.
Talk to us – Only a few people struggling with infertility need IVF – there may be other options to try first, but the sooner you try the better. If you are concerned the key thing is to act now. Let’s talk.