Plans to improve access to assisted conception treatment including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) have today been given the green light by the Governing Body of NHS Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group (HaRD CCG).
This means that women in the area under the age of 42 who are having difficulty conceiving will now be offered one cycle of IVF treatment.
The CCG agreed to commission one cycle of IVF up to age 42 – this option would allow the CCG to start making treatment available, but minimises the financial risk associated with fully implementing National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations at this stage.
The former Primary Care Trust (PCT), which the CCG replaced in April 2013, had a policy to only commission assisted conception treatment in exceptional circumstances. This policy was a result of significant financial pressures.
Although these financial pressures continue to be experienced across the NHS, HaRD CCG has given its commitment to work towards meeting guidance set by the NICE by making IVF guidance more widely available.
The national picture in relation to the number of IVF cycles commissioned varies greatly between different CCGs (see www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/niac_2/ccg_details)
Dr Gareth Roberts, local GP and lead for planned care at the CCG, said: The unavailability of IVF treatment for couples in the area has been a concern over the past few years and it’s something that we, as the new leaders of the local NHS, have been exploring since we were established. We recognise how the old policy may have seemed unfair for local couples, especially when people living in other parts of the country have access to such treatment.
It is important to stress that we are still under great financial pressure and this will continue well into the next financial year. Having looked at the options available to us around IVF, we feel the option we have chosen will benefit a significant number of couples in the area whilst still being able to maintain healthcare services for all the local population.
We recognise that our new policy on IVF still doesn’t fully comply with NICE guidance, however, I am sure that local people will agree that it’s a positive step in the right direction.
Now HaRD CCG has agreed to begin commissioning the service, it is now looking at how it will work with local hospitals and GP practices to plan out and implement the ways in which people can access the service. This will be in place in the next couple of months. Members of the public, GPs and hospital staff will be updated when further details are available.