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NHS-funded IVF in Cambridgeshire is cut

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Ovum Cold Color (in vitro fertilization)
Ovum Cold Color (in vitro fertilization)

IVF treatment in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has been suspended despite overwhelming opposition to the cuts.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) met today (Tuesday) to approve a recommendation to suspend most IVF treatment until at least April 2019.

Previously, couples had access to one NHS-funded IVF cycle, which costs the CCG £3,000 per patient. Suspending the service, it says, will save £700,000 a year at a time of significant financial pressure.

Only patients undergoing cancer treatment and the partners of men suffering from a chronic viral infection, such as HIV, will receive the specialist fertility treatment.

Some 82 per cent of people responding to a consultation over the plans were against the proposals, with just 16 per cent in favour of suspending the service. A 2,278-signature petition was also submitted by Addenbrooke’s charge nurse, Stuart Tuckwood.

The CCG says it manages a budget of around £1.1billion to spend on healthcare for the whole population of this area, which is just more than £1,000 per person.

It says it has to make “very difficult decisions” about how best to spend public money and has to evaluate every service it commissions.

Following the decision, Cambridge University Hospitals, which runs Cambridge IVF, said it is fully committed to working with patients from Peterborough and Cambridgeshire. Although most patients will have to pay for fertility treatment (upwards of £4,000), the hospital said its charges are still less than those of private clinics.

Service lead and consultant embryologist at Cambridge IVF, Stephen Harbottle, said: “While we fully understand the very difficult financial position the CCG is in, we know the decision will be met with worry by our patients in the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire area.

“Our assurance to them is that Cambridge IVF, as the assisted conception service provided by Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie, will continue to provide coordinated fertility treatment and a well-established and recognised patient pathway.”

Staff are inviting anyone with questions about IVF to attend Kefford House, Trumpington, between 6pm and 8pm on September 12, 19 or 26.

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