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The consideration of the issue follows a commitment by the board to reconsider its position a year on from the original decision to no longer routinely fund treatment on the NHS. The decision, taken following a public consultation, reflected the CCG’s poor financial position at the time.
The board heard that although the CCG is currently forecasting that it will meet its financial targets for 2018/19, it is not possible to predict what impact winter pressures might have on NHS finances. There are also a number of other essential demands on CCG finances. These include mental health services in hospitals, investing in tackling delays in hospital treatment for patients and putting in funding to help ease pressures on services this coming winter period.
Reinstating routine funding for IVF and other specialist fertility services would cost the CCG around £350,000 a year.
Dr Nicolas Small, GP board chair says: “Although our finances have improved, the board concluded that the financial position for the CCG and for the local NHS overall remains precarious. It wouldn’t be prudent to increase access to services before the CCG has determined with any degree of certainty that we have reached a position of ongoing financial stability.
“Last year’s consultation gave us a clear view that many people are keen for us to make routine funding of IVF available on the NHS for people who meet our clinical criteria. It is good practice to review funding for services so we will review our position again in six months’ time in the context of our finances and clinical priorities.”
There will still be access to NHS funding for IVF and other specialist fertility services for people in exceptional circumstances, such as infertility caused by cancer treatment. Thirteen couples have received treatment through this route since the CCG policy change in October 2017.
Anyone experiencing fertility problems can still consult their GP and, where appropriate, be referred to a specialist in the community gynaecological service or in a hospital to establish why they are not managing to conceive. This support will continue to be funded on the NHS.