NHS financial crisis: Wiltshire to limit IVF treatments - reluctantly

Written by Tony Millett on .

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been reviewing various areas of NHS treatment to see where they can make the savings they must make to stay solvent.

First out of the consultation process is IVF. The headline is that the number of embryo transfers that the CCG will pay for is being reduced from six to three - of which only one transfer will not be a frozen embryo.

The changes will not affect couples with fertility problems consulting their GP or receiving surgical intervention if that is appropriate.  This reduction in service is  purely about the final level of treatment - IVF.

The CCG board were unanimous in their reluctance to take this step. Lay member Christine Reid: "None of us want this - we're really pushed for cash...Sadly we will have to make other decisions like this. I back this reluctantly."

Tracy Cox, the CCG's new Interim Accountable Officer: "We all feel a level of discomfort about this - with a heavy heart we have to progress this."  And Peter Lucas, lay member and the CCG's deputy chairman, referred to the wider context: "We don't like the landscape we have to work in."

The new policy will reduce the time women are trying to conceive under treatment from three to two years for women between 35 and 40n years old.  Couples seeking IVF must have been in a stable relationship for at least two years.

Couples diagnosed with 'absolute infertility', which makes natural conception impossible, will get immediate access to NHS funded assisted reproduction services - so long as they are eligible against the other criteria.

There will be no NHS support for Wiltshire people for IVF in cases of surrogacy.

Couples where one partner has a child by a previous partner will be allowed treatment as long as they are otherwise eligible.

This new policy on IVF comes into effect on October 28 - only referrals from that date will be affected.

The CCG's paper on this reduction in service can be read in full at their website: Fertility Assessment and Treatment Policy.