Commissioners in East Anglia scrapped their plans to cut back IVF treatment and a service for vulnerable adults, after receiving an ‘incredible’ amount of feedback from the public opposed to the plans.
The board of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG announced they will continue to offer couples up to two IVF cycles, after the public rejected proposals on reducing the number of cycles.
The CCG has also agreed to re-commission a service for marginalised and vulnerable adults serving both west and east Suffolk, instead of cutting the service altogether in the east.
The original plans were part of a cost-cutting exercise aimed at delivering £13m worth of savings.
The CCG said in a press statement that ‘views of local people have helped health commissioners make their decisions following a major engagement exercise over last summer’.
The statement read: ‘Governing body members of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG have decided to make no change to the current in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) policy of up to two cycles for eligible patients.
‘It was also agreed that a marginalised and vulnerable adult (MVA) service covering east and west Suffolk will be re-commissioned so it continues to support the most vulnerable members of the community.’
The CCG said it received an ‘incredible’ level of feedback on how the CCG should make savings, with nearly 1,400 responses and discussions with local people at 22 consultation events.
However, the CCGs want to press ahead with other cost-cutting measures, which include restricting the prescribing of over-the-counter medicines.
CCG chair Dr Mark Shenton said: ‘The level of feedback has been incredible, which highlights the passion people have for their NHS. From this feedback and with input from local health professionals, governing body members have been able to reach these decisions.
‘I believe these are the right decisions and show how good patient engagement is essential when planning changes to services that will affect the lives of so many people.’
He added: ‘Focussing on maintaining a financial balance will still be an important priority over the coming months, and we continue to ask for people’s support. We will shortly be introducing a new campaign on how people can help the NHS save money by buying medicine over the counter from the pharmacy rather than on prescription, which will be supported by a new film.’
How CCGs have been trying to ration care
Commissioners have come under criticism for making increasingly desperate attempts to ration treatment, after large numbers of CCGs were rated poorly for financial management by NHS England – with several racking up multimillion-pound deficits.
NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG provoked criticism by announcing plans to completely ban referrals for bariatric surgery.
The CCG also followed the lead of neighbouring CCGs in proposing to completely stopping funding for both male and female sterilisation as well as cutting back on some treatments, such as limiting IVF.
Other CCGs facing large deficits also planned cuts to GP enhanced services that were branded ‘short-sighted’ by local GP leaders.
Last year St Helens CCG was forced to drop plans to stop GPs referring patients for elective treatment over the winter, after outcry from the profession and the public.