The Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is to hold a public consultation regarding the provision of fertility treatment in the area.
Following the merger of the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCGs to a single entity, various policies are to be aligned across the areas. One of the policy areas to be considered is fertility services, such as funded IVF cycles.
Duncan McConville, senior commissioning manager at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG told the Bedford Borough Council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee 'The access criteria within these areas varies significantly in relation to the number of cycles… In Luton, the number of cycles offered is three, in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes the number of cycles is one.'
Instead of increasing the number of cycles offered in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes their preferred option is to reduce the offer of three cycles in Luton to one, while extending access to IVF treatment to include female same-sex couples, single women and trans men with a uterus.
Director of the Progress Educational Trust, Sarah Norcross, commented 'The current difference between the three Clinical Commissioning Groups highlights the postcode lottery when it comes to funding fertility treatment. When aligning policies, CCGs should be looking to level up and see it as an opportunity to offer everyone a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) compliant three full cycles and not see it as an opportunity to cut treatment in a rush to the bottom.'
Mr McConville acknowledged that the NICE recommendation is to provide three funded cycles, although denied the preference to reduce the number of cycles offered in Luton was a savings exercise, saying, 'The other changes around widening the access to a wider group of the population would offset any marginal savings from reducing from three cycles to one in that area.'
Bedfordshire CCG had previously considered removing all funding for IVF, although this was deferred following public consultation (see Bionews 879).
The public consultation is to be held from 12 October to 21 December 2021, with decisions on the realignment of services expected to be made in February 2022.