Many news outlets (including The Guardian and the BBC) have reported that thirteen areas of the UK have “restricted or completely halted” IVF treatment for those struggling to conceive. Public anger has arisen about the creation of a postcode lottery.
NICE guidelines suggest that women should have access to three full cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS and, though this is still being upheld in Scotland, thirteen areas of the UK are choosing to restrict the number of treatment cycles available even further or reduce the age ranges you are eligible for IVF. The London borough of Croydon axed funding for IVF completely in March of this year (except for individual funding on “exceptional” grounds).
Not only is a cutting back on the number of IVF treatments available against NICE guidelines but it is a perfect example of the postcode lottery CCGs create. Since 2013 and the Health & Social Care Act, NHS England has been able able to shift accountability and has commented on these changes that “Ultimately these are decisions for Clinical Commissioning Groups, who are under an obligation to balance the various competing demands on the NHS locally while living within the budget parliament has allocated.”
As Prof Simon Fishel (who was part of a team that pioneered IVF in the UK) has said of the developments “If the country decides it will not fund IVF then fine, that is a decision that affects everyone … but what I cannot abide is the local variation for something like this, which doesn’t reflect local populations.”
Every woman should be able to have IVF on the NHS but perhaps more important is that every woman should have the same access to free IVF regardless of where they live.
Please see our earlier post on further risks to the NHS – KONP new briefing to MPs and Councillors – and the website Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill to see what you can do to help reverse the growing postcode lottery in the NHS.