NHS cutbacks worsen IVF ‘postcode lottery’ in England

Funding cuts by the UK’s NHS has meant that 13 areas in England have restricted or halted IVF treatment since the start of 2017, according to Fertility Network UK.

A further eight areas are consulting on taking similar measures, and the situation is worsening says the charity which monitors IVF provision. These cuts amount to a ‘postcode lottery’ said regional co-ordinator Anya Sizer to Sky News.

NICE recommends that three full cycles of IVF are offered to women under 40 who have not become pregnant after trying to conceive for two years. Currently, only 27 of England’s 207 CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) meet this guidance.

In effect, patients in some parts of England may be able to get three fully funded cycles of IVF, while those in a neighbouring CCG, may get no NHS treatment. ‘There you have a distance of a few miles up the road and you have a completely different funding experience,’ said Ms Sizer.

Earlier this year Croydon became the first London CCG to stop funding IVF to help save £836,000 annually.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs are currently holding a consultation on restricting fertility treatment to women aged 30-35 and would be the first in the UK to apply such limitations (see BioNews 912).

Full story in BioNews, 14 August 2017