Suspension of NHS IVF in Herts Valley CCG during consultation on cuts to IVF treatment - please act now!

Many people who visit me are looking for support as they are trying for a baby and many are already undergoing investigation whilst they are waiting for an NHS referral for IVF treatment.  As many other organisations and healthcare professionals working closely with IVF patients, I'm deeply concerned about the recent events that have surfaced regarding potential cuts to NHS provision of IVF in the Hertfordshire and local areas.  If proposed cuts go through, this could have grave consequences that would be detrimental to the wellbeing of anyone affected by infertility, including their mental health.  

I'm particularly concerned as those who would not be able to afford treatment privately here in the UK may be forced to go for treatment abroad where costs are typically lower, a concern that has been publicised in the media as recently as this year.  Fertility clinics abroad are less tightly regulated compared to here in the UK and are more likely to recommend medications which are less evidence-based, posing potential risk to both mother and baby.  These clinics are also more likely to permit the transfer of multiple embryos, a practice which is heavily regulated in the UK due to increased risks of multiple births.  This leads to additional health risk for both the mother and her babies and subsequently increased monitoring and obstetric management once mothers return to the UK for NHS maternity care.   

I'm deeply concerned that CCGs have not considered these important factors where the immediate cost of cutting IVF provision could, at best, lead to costs being re-distributed to other services or, at worst, lead to poorer outcomes in mental health and maternity care.  These outcomes would be absolutely devastating for patients and which is certainly not a position the NHS is likely to wish to compromise.  

I will be writing to the CCGs to share these concerns regarding the consultation.  However, the consultation will also affect members of the public and if you or someone you know will be potentially affected by the outcome of this consultation, it's important to make your voice heard and to allow the CCG to consider the full impact of their proposals.

So what is happening?

On the 15th June 2017, the board of Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) took the decision to suspend IVF and specialist fertility services with immediate effect.  This decision was taken as part of a six month review and consultation of the provision of IVF and specialised fertility services within the CCG. The suspension is being put in place to prevent a backlog of patients building up during the review period.  The full news article can be found on the Herts Valley CCG website here.

The suspension of IVF and specialist fertility services in Herts Valley is taking place whilst the CCG is considering cutting all NHS IVF services, a decision which they are currently considering alongside 2 other CCGs which are the East & North Hertfordshire CCG and the West Essex CCG.   

What can I do?

The CCGs are running a public consultation from the 6th July to the 11th September 2017 so now is the time to get involved to voice your opinion and help shape the outcome of the consultation.  

I strongly believe in transparency and the sharing of information, particularly in publicly-funded services like NHS fertility treatment since decisions made has the potential to affects hundreds of patients in the short term.  Anyone interested in, or concerned about, the provision of IVF on the NHS can read the publicly available information on the CCG websites as well as fertility support groups.  Here are a few links to get started with:

  1. Hertfordshire & West Essex NHS IVF Fertility Services consultation document.
  2. East & North Hertfordshire CCG Public Consultation on proposals for service changes.
  3. Herts Valley CCG: Hertfordshire NHS organisations announce public consultations on proposals for service changes.
  4. Fertility Network UK:  NHS IVF suspension.

One of the best ways to get involved is to attend one of the public meeting events that are being held by the CCGs in order to seek the views of local people - please click on the link for the event you're interested in to reserve your place:

You can also complete an online questionnaire here or get in touch directly with your CCG at the following details:

  • Herts Valley CCG: (01442 284 002)
  • East & North Hertfordshire CCG: or (01707 253 916)
  • West Essex CCG: (with a subject line of FAO: CCG Sounding Board)

Fertility Network UK also provides an information hotline (01424 732 361) if you're looking for more information related to fertility challenges, treatment options, funding and emotional support.