Yesterday, Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced that they will only fund In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) for those with exceptional clinical circumstances. I am told this will make Croydon one of only five CCGs out of 209 in the entire country that will not provide routine IVF treatment. Couples who are already undergoing NHS IVF, those who have had their funding approved and those whose routine applications have been received by the CCG as of yesterday and who are found to meet the previous criteria for IVF will continue to receive their treatment.
The decision was reached following a formal public consultation in which 77% of respondents thought Croydon CCG should opt to maintain one cycle of IVF. In spite of this feedback, the CCG have opted to go ahead with the changes. This decision is devastating news for those in my constituency who are unable to have a baby without medical help.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guideline on IVF, issued in 2004 and updated in 2013, recommends that all eligible couples should receive three full cycles of IVF or ICSI where the woman is aged under 40. However, these are guidelines and CCGs are not legally required to implement them, which is why there is substantial variation between CCGs in England in terms of what fertility treatments are routinely funded; prior to yesterday’s decision, Croydon CCG only offered one round of IVF treatment.
In a recent parliamentary debate on the decommissioning of IVF services, Nicola Blackwood, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Health said:
“The Government has made it clear that blanket restrictions on any healthcare treatment - including fertility services - are unacceptable...On the implementation of NICE guidelines, I commend CCGs, such as Camden, Oldham and others that have been mentioned, that have implemented the NICE fertility guidelines in full and continue to offer three IVF cycles to qualifying couples. That shows it is entirely possible for CCGs to implement NICE’s IVF provision recommendations…and it is deeply disappointing that some CCGs have stopped routinely commissioning it”.
Infertility is a devastating condition, which can lead to anxiety, depression and the breakdown of relationships, which is why I disagree with this decision and will be raising this with Nicola.