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Statement on Specialist Fertility Services

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Following a Governing Body meeting on Tuesday 6th August 2019, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed their decision from 2017 to cease funding the provision of specialist fertility services. The CCG will only review the decision again when it has achieved a financial surplus.

The decision comes after funding for specialist fertility services was suspended in September 2017 following public consultation. Due to concerns raised, the CCG agreed to monitor the potential impact on the number of multiple births via first round IVF that took place abroad, any potential impact experienced by mental health services as a result of the decision, and a review of the CCG’s current financial situation. 

Working with local Acute and Mental Health Providers, the CCG reported that no significant impact on the use of mental health provision due to this decision has been reported and similarly no significant increase in multiple births. 

In addition, the financial position of the CCG has not improved since the original decision was made. Therefore, the decision has been made to stop funding the routine provision of specialist fertility services in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG area.

Dr Gary Howsam, Clinical Chair of the CCG, said: “Clinicians and managers alike acknowledge that this was a difficult decision to make and would have an impact on individuals and their families, but that in the current financial climate, it was not reasonable to reinstate the service. The Governing Body has committed to reviewing the decision as and when the CCG is operating in a financial surplus position.

“Anyone with fertility problems can still go to their GP who can discuss the treatment options available to them. Couples can still be referred to hospital for further tests to investigate the cause of their infertility, and many of these causes can be successfully treated without the need to go on to have IVF.”

There are two exceptions to the decision ruling, they are on the grounds of:

  • Fertility preservation (Cryopreservation) – offered to patients undergoing cancer treatment, or who have a disease or a condition requiring medical or surgical treatment, that has a significant likelihood of making them infertile, e.g. patients who are or will be receiving:
    • Specialist endocrinology services (hormonal imbalances);
    • Services for a rare mitochondrial disorder (a rare, long term, genetic disorder); or
    • Endocrine treatment or surgery in relation to gender dysphoria (defined by a strong, persistent feeling of identification with another gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned gender and sex).
  • Sperm washing – offered to men who have a chronic viral infection (primarily HIV) and whose female partner does not, where intrauterine insemination is being considered. This is a risk reduction measure to limit the transmission of a serious, pre-existing viral condition, such as HIV, to the woman and therefore potentially her unborn baby.

The original decision to pause specialist fertility services has saved £598,000 in the last financial year and is forecast to save £700,000 per annum in the future, which can be used to fund a range of other vital healthcare services.

06/08/2019