Health commissioners in parts of Nottinghamshire are consulting with the public about proposals to review eligibility for NHS IVF funding.
NHS Mansfield and Ashfield and Newark and Sherwood CCG are seeking views before a decision is made about the options being considered.
The options are outlined in a consultation document available to the public which includes options to change the eligibility criteria for access to IVF treatment funded by the NHS. The document also outlines options to withdraw NHS funding for treatment.
Dr Amanda Sullivan, chief officer for NHS Newark and Sherwood and Mansfield and Ashfield CCG, said: “I absolutely appreciate this is a difficult area to discuss. The local NHS has been very successful in treating more conditions and in helping people to live longer.
“Additional funding has been made available to the NHS, but new treatments, growing levels of long-term conditions and increasing expectations mean that CCGs now have to re-prioritise how precious NHS resources are deployed. As the health needs of our population change, we need to review how best to allocate the considerable resources available to us, so that maximum health benefits can be achieved overall.
“It is the CCGs role to plan and buy health care services for the local population. Commissioners have a legal duty to live within their means. We need to save around £20 million this year, roughly twice the normal savings requirement.
“This is likely to increase over the next few years. The CCGs need to ensure that there is enough money to maintain high quality and safe services.”
Avril Mackie, Clinic Director of CARE Fertility Nottinghamm, said: “The announcement by Mansfield and Ashfield CCG that they are reviewing funding for fertility treatment will be a concern for patients.
“Withdrawing or reducing funding would clearly be deeply disappointing for many people. We fully appreciate the budgetary challenges facing the NHS.
“However, we would welcome a national strategy for fertility funding rather than the current local provision which is defined by postcode.”
A review of how to get maximum overall health benefit within available resources is underway. The move to formally consult on IVF funding follows a period of engagement with the public in which a range of NHS services were put forward for discussion.
The full list of services discussed can be seen in a special report on the CCGs’ web site, www.mansfieldandashfieldccg.nhs.uk.
The CCGs announced in August that they need to reduce a funding shortfall of around £20m.
Funding of IVF in Newark and Sherwood and Mansfield and Ashfield is currently around £300,000 per year.
The CCGs currently fund one cycle of IVF. People sometimes pay privately for additional cycles should that be required.
Local data shows that during the last year 106 people received IVF across mid-Nottinghamshire with 35 resulting in a pregnancy, 34 resulting in no pregnancy, 7 cancelled and 30 still awaiting results.
The current policy defines that the CCGs fertility assessment and treatment service is restricted to women aged 18 – 42 years at the time of referral into the services. There is currently no age limit for men.
The formal consultation starts on Monday, November 14, and ends formally on Friday, January 13, 2017. People are asked to give their views on a range of options by attending a public session or completing the survey on either of the CCGs’ websites where the full consultation document is also available to view from Monday, November 14.
Dr Thilan Bartholomuez, GP Clinical Lead for NHS Newark and Sherwood CCG, said: “We know that a review of eligibility for NHS fertility treatment is going to divide opinion and will cause some strength of feeling. No decision has been made and this period of consultation is an opportunity for people, whatever their view, to have their say about any of the proposals set out. We recognise that this is a sensitive area and is very significant for some people.
“We strongly urge people to share their views using the consultation and feedback methods available.”