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IVF in North Yorkshire scrapped on NHS


1:20pm 7th June 2011
(Updated 3:32pm 7th June 2011)

North Yorkshire's health bosses are defending their decision not to fund IVF treatment for another 12 months.

They say the primary care trust's got a priority to stay solvent and protect services for the majority of people.

Mike Danford from Harrogate knows what it's like going through IVF.

He and his wife struggled to get treatment on the NHS:



Assisted Conception Services In the last quarter of 2010/11 NHS North Yorkshire and York put in place a range of measures to address the serious financial pressure facing the health community. One of these measures was that assisted conception services would not be routinely commissioned, with a view to reconsidering this decision towards the end of the current financial year.

This review has now taken place and on 3rd March 2011, a discussion paper was taken to the PCT's Integrated Commissioning Executive (ICE); a clinically-led committee of the Board which, in partnership with GP leaders, makes decisions on the commissioning of clinical services, setting out the commissioning options with regard to assisted conception services.

The outcome of that meeting was an agreement to maintain the current commissioning policy on infertility treatments for the 2011/12 financial year, including the suspension of age-related criteria. Patients can still continue to access infertility investigations in both primary and secondary care.

Dr David Geddes, Medical Director of NHS North Yorkshire of York commented:

"We fully appreciate that infertility is a highly emotive issue. Following discussions at the clinically led Integrated Commissioning Executive Committee, NHS North Yorkshire and York has taken the difficult decision to not routinely commission assisted conception services for the 2011/12 financial year.

"This decision affects IVF and other assisted conception procedures, however it does not affect couples experiencing fertility problems having access to non-surgical treatments, such as drug treatments, that may result in successful conception.

"We recognise that these actions will be of concern to many and NICE guidance suggests that patients should have access to assisted conception services. The PCT must also have due regard to the need to remain financially solvent and such difficult decisions are the inevitable consequence of the serious position faced by our health community. We have a duty to protect NHS services for the majority."



In any normal year NHS North Yorkshire and York would expect around 250 couples to be referred from secondary care fertility investigations to actual assisted conception procedures such as IVF.

In exceptional circumstances, treatment may be considered through the PCT's Individual Funding Request panel mechanism. The definition of exceptionality is:

A patient may be considered to be exceptional to the general policy if both the following apply: 1) He/she is different to the general population of patients who would normally be refused the healthcare intervention, and 2) There are good grounds to believe that the patient is likely to gain significantly more benefit from the intervention than might be expected for the average patient with that particular condition.

Only evidence of clinical need will be considered. Factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, lifestyle or other social factors such as employment or parenthood will not be considered.



York Central MP, Hugh Bayley, has welcomed a report published this week by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility which calls on NHS trust and care providers to implement the official guidelines on infertility treatment. 

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that couples who are having difficulty conceiving, where the woman is aged 23 to 39, should be given up to three cycles of IVF on the NHS. 

However, the research carried out by the All Party Group shows that more than 70% of NHS trusts and care providers are ignoring the NICE guidelines and putting in place strict limits on who can get the treatment;  and five primary care trusts, including North Yorkshire and York, have stopped offering IVF treatment all together. 

Hugh Bayley MP says:

“I have fought for several constituents to get access to fertility treatment on the NHS. 

"One couple I met recently had just had the baby they were longing for. 

"It is a treatment that does an enormous amount to promote wellbeing. 

"When I was a junior Minister at the Department of Health I argued for the creation of NICE so that these difficult ethical decisions would be made by doctors and scientists and not politicians or bureaucrats and it is important to follow the advice that NICE gives. 

"We mustn’t end up with a health service that says that some treatments are only to be available to people can afford to pay for private treatment. 

"Those on low incomes also have the right to these treatments.”


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