Press Release: Patients can save IVF services in Cheshire

 

The umbrella campaign group, Fertility Fairness, is urging clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) not to fail their patients by cutting tertiary infertility services, such as IVF and ICSI.

A public consultation by Eastern Cheshire CCG and four others (Wirral, South Cheshire, Vale Royal and West Cheshire) on the provision of specialist fertility services, includes proposals to cut the number of IVF cycles for women aged 23 to 39 from three cycles to either two or one.

Further proposals aim to tighten access criteria for IVF on time trying to conceive from two years to three years, and on BMI and smoking status, though exact details on the latter remain unclear.

Fertility Fairness strongly opposes these plans, and recommends that the CCGs do not continue with the proposed reduction in fertility services.

Fertility Fairness joint chair, Susan Seenan, said “Infertility is a disease as recognised by the World Health Organisation and, as with any other medical condition, it is deserving of treatment.

“Based on the NICE guideline, which was updated and re-validated in 2013, it is unequivocally clear that three full cycles of IVF or ICSI should be provided to those in need. Reducing access to IVF treatment and introducing restrictive access criteria would mark a drastic departure from these guidelines, and further exacerbate the postcode lottery of fertility services” she added.

The decommissioning of fertility services raises serious equality issues, as the majority of other CCGs continue to offer wider access to specialist fertility services. If the policy change is approved, Eastern Cheshire would drop significantly in its performance relative to the rest of the country. This was a region that, until relatively recently, offered some of the best provision for fertility care in the UK.

The CCGs acknowledge the impact of the changes for couples suffering from infertility ‘may be significant’.

The new Health Minister, Nicola Blackwood, responding to proposals to cut services by another CCG stated in a letter to a patient that ‘Although the provision of local services is a matter for CCGs, we expect them to commission services, including fertility services, in line with NICE guidelines’.

Fertility Fairness encourages patients to respond to the survey, which runs from 25 October 2016 to 17 January 2017, available here http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/5SRZQ/ .