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CCG defends ‘necessary’ decision to freeze access to free fertility services

NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG has announced plans to scrap free IVF services until April 2019 in the face of mounting financial pressures.

A report presented at the CCG’s governing body meeting this week said a consultation on the decision received 1,311 responses.

The CCG admitted that the response was not supportive, but said the decision was ‘necessary’.

The paper said: ‘Overall the individual responses to the consultation did not support the proposal. None of the responses received from organisations supported the proposal.’

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However, a CCG response said cutting IVF is expected to save £700,000 annually in the face of a £46.5m deficit this financial year.

This comes as Pulse reported that five CCGs have stopped funding for IVF treatment completely, which GP leaders have said leaves patients in an ‘unacceptable postcode lottery situation’.

Dr Gary Howsam, chair of NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, said: ‘The response to the consultation showed that people feel strongly about this issue, and for that reason this was a very difficult decision for the governing body to make and we understand that people will be disappointed.

He added: ‘The decision to suspend routinely commissioning specialist fertility services is a financially necessary decision, following evaluation of the options available to us to reduce expenditure, and we have said that we will review this decision in April 2019.’

NHS Herts Valleys and NHS East and North Hertfordshire CCGs are also in the process of consulting on whether to reduce or scrap IVF treatment.