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  1. ITV Report

Plans to reduce NHS IVF in Bath and NE Somerset considered

The plans could save the local NHS £200,000 a year. Photo: Maria Steen/TT/TT News Agency/Press Association Images

Fewer women in Bath and North East Somerset will have access to NHS fertility treatment, under plans being considered by Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) NHS Clinical Commissioning Group. Funding for vasectomies and female sterilisation would be ended altogether, except in exceptional circumstances.

B&NES CCG said is was "stretched by an unprecedented demand for services" and must make £10.2m savings by April 2018. It currently spends £350,000 a year on fertility treatment but these measures could reduce that bill by £200,000.

A three-day-old embryo. Credit: PA Archive

At the moment, the CCG provides a single course of IVF to couples in which the woman is aged 23-40, and with no limit on the man's age. Under the new plans, the woman would have to be aged 23-35, and the man aged 55 or under, and the couple must have been trying for a baby for at least two years.

35
the proposed upper age limit for women to qualify for IVF in B&NES

Earlier this year, the CCG stopped providing other non-urgent services, including prescriptions for gluten-free foods for coeliac patients, and over-the-counter remedies like suncream.

“None of these decisions have been taken lightly, and throughout the process we have – and continue to – question the best way to commission services that are of the greatest benefit to the most patients."

– Dr Ruth Grabham, CCG Medical Director and a Bath GP

The NHS oversight group NICE recommends women under 40 have access to three IVF cycles but in reality availability of NHS fertility services varies widely between English regions. Some do not provide it all all.

In summer 2017 the NHS CCG for Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset consulted on narrowing the woman's age range to 30-35. The plans were dropped after strong public opposition.

A public consultation on the B&NES fertility plans will run until 27 December. CCG leaders say they want as many people as possible to give feedback:

Click here to have your say on the IVF proposals.

Click here to have your say on the male and female sterilisation proposals.