Today, at a meeting of its Governing Body, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided to suspend, until April 2019, routinely commissioning specialist fertility services.
The decision was taken following a 20 week public consultation over the summer. The CCG’s Governing Body reviewed the comments and responses received during the consultation in an end of consultation report. A total of 1,311 responses were received during the consultation; this number includes emails, letters, and telephone calls as well as completed questionnaires. The CCG also received a petition with 2,278 signatures.
Dr Gary Howsam, Chair and Chief Clinical Officer, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, said:
“Specialist IVF services are part of a range of investigations and treatments that can help couples to conceive. I would encourage anyone with fertility problems to go to their GP who can discuss with them the treatment options available. Couples can still be referred on to hospital for further tests to investigate the cause of their infertility. Many causes of infertility can be successfully treated without the need to go on to IVF.
“The response to the consultation showed that people feel strongly about this issue, and for that reason this was a very difficult decision for the Governing Body to make and we understand that people will be disappointed.
“The CCG has finite resources to fund a whole range of health services and treatments. We need to save £46.5m this financial year, and so we have had to review all areas of our spending and to make some difficult decisions. The decision to suspend routinely commissioning specialist fertility services is a financially necessary decision, following evaluation of the options available to us to reduce expenditure, and we have said that we will review this decision in April 2019.”
As part of the decision-making process the Governing Body considered the feedback received during the public consultation. The following recommendations have been agreed to address concerns raised during the consultation:
- The CCG will monitor through the contract, where contractually possible, multiple births via first round of IVF that have taken place abroad and any associated complications and costs.
- The CCG will review the decision at the end of the funding formula period in April 2019. The review of the provision of specialist fertility services (IVF) will be made in April 2019, and will include an assessment of the CCG’s financial position, including the impact of the withdrawal of the service on multiple birth levels and any impact experienced by mental health services.
- The CCG also agreed to continue to monitor any impacts on these areas between now and April 2019. It will use the first year of data to start the review and committed to working with local council Scrutiny Committees as part of that review with a decision on whether to reinstate IVF to be made in April 2019.
- Other investigations and clinical interventions which can improve fertility for couples are not affected by this decision. These are widely available on the NHS before the need to access specialist fertility services.
The decision to suspend provision of specialist fertility services will take immediate effect. There are two exceptions to the restrictions on specialist fertility provision, these are: Fertility preservation for patients undergoing treatment that has a significant likelihood of making them infertile (e.g. cancer); and sperm washing for men who have a chronic viral infection (e.g. HIV) and whose female partner does not, in order to limit the transmission of a serious, pre-existing viral condition.
Couples who have already been referred for specialist fertility services will still receive one cycle of IVF as per the previous policy.