NHS IVF no longer available in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, despite pioneering it

Full story in BioNews, 11 September 2017

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)  has removed funding for free IVF treatment, despite being the county where the procedure was first developed 40 years ago.

It is the third CCG in the UK to remove NHS funding for IVF, following Essex and Croydon. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG estimates that the move will save £700,000 a year.

Dr Mike Macnamee is CEO of Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic in Cambridge, where the world’s first IVF techniques were developed (see Call to remember ‘forgotten’ IVF pioneer in this week’s BioNews). He told Cambridge News: ‘It is very sad that the CCG has decided to cut all funding for IVF as we know this will be devastating to many people. Infertility is a recognised disease and impacts the quality of life for those affected and their wider families.’

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that three courses of NHS IVF treatment should be offered to women under the age of 40.

Another concern shared by Dr Macnamee is that reductions in NHS provision would lead to more patients seeking treatment overseas, where treatment is cheaper. Differences in regulation may also make multiple births more likely.

‘People think “twins, that’s a bonus”,’ he said. ‘But it isn’t really, because usually twins or triplets are born early and may have other complications.’

‘IVF is more expensive in the UK than other countries because of strict regulations ensuring very high standards of expertise and care. Removing the funding will encourage more people to go overseas, increasing the chance of multiple births…Just three sets of triplets will wipe out any saving,’ said Dr Macnamee.