North Yorkshire and York has become the latest primary care trust to restrict funding for NHS IVF treatment.
Couples in the region were hoping that the trust would plough funds into IVF treatment at the start of the new financial year in April. But health chiefs have dealt them a blow by maintaining the policy of restricting IVF, deciding not to routinely commission assisted conception services for 2011/12.
Now couples will have to meet two ‘exceptions’ criteria to even be considered for an NHS-funded cycle of IVF or other assisted conception procedure.
These include being ‘different to the general population of patients who would normally be refused the healthcare intervention’ and demonstrating that there are ‘good grounds to believe that the patient is likely to gain more benefit from the intervention than the average patient with that particular condition’. Factors such as lifestyle, gender, or age will not be part of the criteria.
Couples will still be able to access non-surgical fertility treatments such as courses of fertility drugs, which may aid conception. Explaining their decision, North Yorkshire and York PCT said they had a duty to protect NHS services for the majority.
And in a similar move, NHS East Riding PCT is going to be culling the number of IVF cycles it offers from April, meaning couples will have only one chance of NHS-funded IVF treatment instead of the two cycles previously offered. Couples already on the waiting list will still receive the two cycles; the change only affects new referrals from April.
So as the new financial year creeps ever closer, the question is how many more PCTs will follow the trend and target fertility treatment as the easy way to save money.
Many couples affected say they can’t afford private treatment. But schemes such as egg-sharing – where a woman going through IVF donates some of her eggs to help other women – offer hope. At Manchester Fertility, women who take part in our egg-sharing scheme get their cycle of IVF for £500 – considerably less than the typical cost of a cycle of IVF with us.
We are delighted to say that so far, our egg-sharing programme has resulted in many pregnancies for both the women going through IVF, and those who have received donated eggs.
So if you’re living with the NHS postcode lottery and can’t get the IVF treatment on the NHS, why not find out more about egg-sharing?