No IVF for York couples

Couples in York, who can't have children, have been dealt a blow after local NHS chiefs backtracked on a decision to offer them a free course of IVF.

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York IVF row: NHS claims treatment would cost £2m

The NHS body in York which has controversially voted not to pay for IVF treatment for childless couples, says offering help to the estimated 110 couples a year would have cost it around £2m.

Campaigners have criticised the decision by the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, which says it is facing a funding shortage and has to make "tough choices."

It means York is the only area in the UK where women struggling to conceive are denied fertility treatment on the NHS. Critics say that childless couples in the area are victims of a health service postcode lottery - and they are calling for York to fall in line with national guidelines which state that 3 cycles of IVF should be offered to people who match the criteria up to the age of 39.

The NHS in York says it has taken the decision with "a heavy heart", but "the commissioning of IVF services carries a great element of financial risk."

“The commissioning of IVF services carries a great element of financial risk for the CCG and with prevalence data highlighting that approximately 110 couples per year will come forward for IVF treatment, the cost pressure could be as much as £2 million per year.

– Dr Tim Hughes, Vale of York CCG

“To put this into perspective, in a year, £2m equates to either two fully staffed and operational hospital wards, 293 major hip replacements, treatment for more than 21,500 average attendances at Accident and Emergency or 43 qualified nurses employed full time for a year."

– Dr Tim Hughes, Vale of York CCG
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York fertility campaigner: "How can they do this?"

An IVF campaigner from York says she is devastated by the decision by NHS bosses in the city not to fund the treatment.

Karen Boardman, 34, from Heworth, has fought against what she calls the "postcode lottery" regarding the treatment, and helps run the York Fertility Network group.

In June, the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group's governing body agreed a policy of offering one cycle of IVF to people who met their criteria. But last night NHS managers said there was not enough money to fund the service.

Mrs Boardman said: "I don't know how they can snatch it away from us."

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No IVF for York couples

The NHS in York has backtracked on a decision earlier this summer to offer childless couples IVF treatment. The city is the only place in the UK not to offer at least one cycle of IVF.

In June, the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group's governing body agreed a policy of offering one cycle of IVF to people who met their criteria. It followed years where the treatment had been denied to people in the area because NHS managers said there was not enough money to fund the service.

But today the governing body narrowly voted not to introduce IVF treatment this year. They will look again at the issue at the end of this financial year.

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York health chiefs backtrack on IVF

“I am delighted that the Governing Body has formally agreed the criteria, which now means that for the first time in five years, IVF is now going to be available to couples in the local area.”

– Dr Emma Broughton, Vale of York CCG, speaking in June

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the CCG’s Governing Body has voted to temporarily defer the commissioning of IVF services in the Vale of York for 2014-15.

– Dr Tim Hughes, Vale of York CCG, speaking today
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