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Free IVF treatment could be reinstated in North East Essex after it was cut five years ago

Fertility campaigners are celebrating after one of the few NHS trusts not to offer IVF treatment Credit: PA

Free IVF treatment could be be reinstated in North East Essex after it was suspended five years ago to save money.

The North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which covers the towns of Colchester and Clacton, cut the service for couples in 2015.

IVF could be offered to couples from April, if plans to re-instate it are approved.

It follows a letter from Health minister Caroline Dinenage in November last year asking all CCGs who don't provide any NHS fertility treatment to address England's 'unacceptable' IVF postcode lottery.

The three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) within the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System (ICS) are currently in the process of reviewing their clinical threshold policies, one of which relates to the provision of IVF treatment.

We are proposing that two cycles of IVF treatment be made available to patients in north east Essex who meet the necessary criteria from April 1, 2020, to bring us into line with the treatment available to patients elsewhere in the ICS.

Subject to the responses received from members of the public, the proposal will need to be ratified by the CCG’s governing body before it becomes policy.

– A spokesperson for the NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group
1 in 6 couples are affected by infertility Credit: PA

Two cycles of IVF treatment are currently available to patients in the NHS Ipswich, East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk CCG areas.

Sarah Norcross, director of fertility charity Progress Educational Trust, said patients would be “overjoyed” at the news after the CCG spent “nearly half a decade…denying infertile couples medical help”.

She added: “North East Essex CCG’s change of heart, which comes on the heels of Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage’s strongly-worded letter to those CCGs who do not provide any NHS fertility treatment, raises the hope that CCGs are beginning to address England’s unacceptable IVF postcode lottery.

“PET urges the four CCGs who still refuse to provide NHS fertility treatment – Mid Essex, Basildon & Brentwood, Croydon and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – to follow suit and restore NHS IVF now.

“For the 1 in 6 couples affected by infertility the clock is ticking: delays not only add to the deep distress infertile couples experience, they may also remove a couple’s chances of ever becoming parents."

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