Women over 35 will no longer receive IVF on the NHS in some parts of the county
10:02am Fri Feb 17, 2017
Women over the age of 35 will no longer be entitled to IVF treatment on the NHS in Newark and Sherwood.
Dr Amanda Sullivan, chief officer for NHS Newark and Sherwood and Mansfield and Ashfield CCGs
Dr Amanda Sullivan, chief officer for NHS Newark and Sherwood and Mansfield and Ashfield CCGs
Health commissioners at NHS Mansfield and Ashfield and Newark and Sherwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have made the change following a public consultation on proposals about eligibility for IVF on the NHS.

The governing bodies of the two CCGs made a decision last night to continue funding the IVF treatment but have limited the criteria.

Options on the table to save money included changing the eligibility criteria for access to IVF treatment funded by the NHS.

There was also an option to withdraw NHS funding for treatment.

The change means women aged between 25 and 34 are eligible, but those aged 35 and over will no longer be able to access the treatment on the NHS and would have to pay privately if they can afford it.

The CCGs said the age range reflects the best possible chance of a successful pregnancy with IVF.

The CCGs announced in August last year that they need to find £20m of savings in order to continue to meet their statutory obligations to commission health care services to the local population.

Funding of IVF in Newark and Sherwood and Mansfield and Ashfield costs around £300,000 per year.

The CCGs currently fund one cycle of IVF.

People sometimes pay privately for additional cycles should that be required.

Dr Amanda Sullivan, chief officer for NHS Newark and Sherwood and Mansfield and Ashfield CCGs, said: "We do recognise the impact that our decision will have on local people but we have to balance the needs of our whole population and ensure that there is enough money to maintain high quality and safe services."

Last year a public consultation was held in Newark to discuss whether IVF should remain free on the NHS.

At the time, Newark MP Robert Jenrick, who has fathered two children through IVF, said the issue would divide public opinion during a time when the NHS has financial constraints.

He said he strongly backed IVF should remaining free on the NHS, but the criteria could be tightened and concentrated on an age where it is more likely to be successful.

Dr Sullivan added: "We have listened to the public and have analysed the results of the IVF consultation which showed some strong support to continue to provide IVF services.

"In taking this decision we believe we have reached a conclusion that allows us to continue to provide the service yet still maintain our responsibilities to commission safe and effective care in Mansfield, and Ashfield, and Newark and Sherwood.; still under very challenging financial circumstances.

"We will review the situation in one year. We realise that this is not an ideal situation and we will reconsider our decision as part of our detailed planning for 2018/19."

The CCGs has also decided to introduce an upper age limit of 40 for men where none existed previously.

They said the decision was made taking into account public feedback from the consultation.

Around one in four respondents supported stopping IVF and around half of people who responded supported further restrictions to IVF funding.

The clinical and cost-effectiveness, of IVF falls rapidly as age increases and female fertility declines.

Avril Mackie, clinic director of CARE Fertility, Nottingham, said: "We are pleased to hear that Mansfield and Ashfield/Newark and Sherwood CCG are continuing to support NHS funded fertility treatment.

"But the new criteria will deny access to many women over the age of 34 who need help to have a family, especially when the average age at which they have treatment is 36.

"Whilst we understand the budgetary pressures faced by the NHS, this announcement will inevitably cause distress to patients.

"CARE Fertility has successfully treated many NHS patients, but we would welcome a national, equitable policy for NHS funded IVF. The current local situation is still defined by postcode."

The CCG ran a formal public consultation from November 14, last year to January 13.

The CCGs received 424 responses to the IVF consultation.

Of those, 74% of people disagreed with stopping IVF treatment; 47% wanted a reduction in the female age range from 42 to 40 years old; 56% agreed to having an age limit for men; 43% wanted IVF funded for a very limited number of exceptional situations.

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