Press Release: Basildon & Brentwood Confusion

FF-try1Plans to cut NHS IVF in Essex are unethical, appalling and muddled and leave patients distressed and without hope, says Fertility Fairness.

Plans by health bosses in Basildon & Brentwood to cut NHS IVF for new and existing patients are unethical, appalling and muddled and leave patients distressed and without hope, says campaign group Fertility Fairness.

Susan Seenan, co-chair of Fertility Fairness said: ‘At the start of this week, Basildon & Brentwood clinical commissioning group announced on its website that it had taken the decision to decommission NHS IVF for new patients – ceasing provision of a range of fertility services including egg and sperm storage for patients undergoing cancer treatment. It later amended this statement and is now saying that a decision to decommission has not yet been made.’

‘The clinical commissioning group has also announced it is now consulting on whether to withdraw the three full IVF cycles it had already promised to existing fertility patients: it is proposing patients who have completed one or two full cycles of IVF will not be allowed access to further treatment; patients who are in the middle of a treatment cycle will be allowed to continue that cycle and access up to one frozen embryo transfer resulting from it.’

‘Fertility Fairness is appalled at what Basildon & Brentwood clinical commissioning group is proposing. You cannot tell patients they will receive treatment and then remove their chance of having a baby from them. To do so is unethical and distressing in the extreme.’

Sarah Norcross, co-chair of Fertility Fairness added: ‘Basildon & Brentwood clinical commissioning group’s lack of clarity about its plans for NHS fertility services shows a complete disregard for its fertility patients. This is an appalling way to handle a public consultation. Threatening to move the goalposts for patients who are already receiving treatment is cruel.’

ENDS

Contact: Catherine Hill press officer Fertility Fairness and Infertility Network UK on 07469- 660845 catherinehill@infertilitynetworkuk.com

Infertility Network UK media volunteers are available on request.

  1. There is now a move towards sustained disinvestment in NHS fertility services in England. In September 2014, mid-Essex CCG decommissioned its NHS fertility service, except in isolated, complex medical cases; north east Essex CCG followed suit in September 2015. South Norfolk CCG announced its decision to cut NHS fertility services completely on 24 November 2015. North East Lincolnshire CCG, Somerset CCG and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG all recently slashed NHS fertility services and now offer just one funded IVF cycle.
  1. NICE guidance recommends three cycles of IVF for women under 40 years and one cycle for some women aged 40-42. The latest data from Fertility Fairness shows that in England less than one in five (17 per cent) of CCGs offer three full cycles of NHS-funded IVF to eligible couples, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 2004 guideline (this represents a drop of 7 per cent since 2013).

Notes for editors

England 0 Cycle Providers 1 Cycle Providers 2 Cycle Providers 3 Cycle Providers
2015 1% 58% 24% 17%
2014 1% 52% 29% 18%
2013 3% 49% 24% 24%

In Scotland, new legislation is being introduced enabling all health boards to fund three cycles for women under 40 and couples with children from previous relationships; in Wales, women under 40 are entitled to two cycles and in Northern Ireland women under 40 are offered one cycle.

  1. There is now a striking North-South divide between the levels of provision of NHS fertility treatment. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that it is both clinically and cost effective that all eligible couples should receive up to three full NHS-funded cycles of IVF or ICSI where women are aged under 40. However, just 17.2 per cent of England’s 209 CCGs follow this national guidance and provide access to three NHS-

funded IVF cycles. Of the 36 clinical commissioning groups offering three NHS-funded IVF cycles, the vast majority – 78 per cent – are in the North; just eight regions in the South (22 per cent) follow NICE’s recommendation regarding NHS fertility treatment. All the areas that have decommissioned NHS fertility services, or are consulting on doing so, are in the South of England.

  1. Fertility Fairness is a multidisciplinary umbrella organisation representing the major patient and professional bodies working in the field of fertility. Fertility Fairness campaigns for fair and equitable access to NHS-funded fertility services in accordance with national recommendations issued by NICE. This includes the right of eligible couples to receive up to three full cycles of IVF treatment regardless of where they happen to live. The figures quoted above are from the third annual audit by Fertility Fairness of the provision of fertility services across England by CCGs using Freedom of Information requests. This is the most comprehensive data about fertility services to date.