Croydon is set to be the first place in London to stop NHS funding for IVF treatment, and one of only five areas to do so throughout the UK.
The news comes after Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) found itself in special measures through July last year and has been forced to make £5.7million savings on top of the existing plans to save £12.7million over the year.
CCG commissions most NHS services in the local areas that they serve, deciding what services are needed and making sure they’re provided.
In a recent statement Croydon CCG said: “There is not enough money for us to do everything we want for the people of Croydon. This is why we need to reduce our spending in some areas of our health budget. We have to prioritise and make tough decisions to secure the future of local health services for everyone.”
Sarah Ducasse, a media volunteer for Fertility Network UK, spoke to Eastlondonlines about her experiences with Croydon University Hospital’s fertility unit. She said: “I think it’s horrendous to remove and deny treatment for thousands of women who can’t afford to go through the private route. It’s absolute insanity. It’s a disease there’s nothing we can do to stop it, it’s out of our control. A lot of people, couples that I know, have opted to go to bigger fertility clinics, but to put it into perspective, two cycles of IVF cost around £20,000.”
For Ducasse, and many other couples who face issues with childbirth, the prospect of having to pay thousands for private IVF treatment is just not a reality.
People who oppose the cuts have said that this will affect those less fortunate in the borough, and say the situation is unfair since all other boroughs offer the treatment for free on the NHS.
A complication with appendicitis caused issues with Ducasse’s fallopian tubes, leaving her unable to go through childbirth the conventional way. For her, like many others, IVF treatment was the only route to go down.
Though the treatment was unsuccessful for her, she opposes the removal of funding as there are thousands of women in the area who have had successful treatment, and who may rely on this treatment as their only option to have their own children.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the organisation that sets guidelines for what should be covered by the NHS, recommends that up to three IVF cycles should be available to couples if the woman is aged between 23 and 39 at the time of treatment; one or both of the couple has been diagnosed with a fertility problem; or you’ve been infertile for more than three years.
Though the guidelines given do not have to be followed by CCGs, they offer the best practice for assisting people who are experiencing problems when it comes to conceiving.
The organisation states: “GPs across Croydon have considered cost effectiveness clinical outcomes, and services that are essential to keep people well and to save lives… Other types of healthcare should take priority over IVF services given the limited resources available.”
Croydon CCG has stated, however, that they are committed to reviewing their ability to fund treatment in the future and help those who are affected by the decision.
Talking to Eastlondonlines, a spokesperson for the group said: “On Tuesday March 14, NHS Croydon CCG’s governing body took the difficult decision to fund IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) and ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) only for those with exceptional clinical circumstances. We wish to make clear that other forms of fertility treatment are still available on the NHS.”