Bury NHS trust in Greater Manchester, UK, has reinstated fertility treatment after suspending the service in September 2010 due to financial constraints.
Health chiefs in Bury had taken the action because the trust was overspending by about £1.3 million a month, and decided to cancel fertility treatment for those not at a 'critical age'. They also axed weight-loss surgery, postponed cosmetic surgery and imposed strict criteria for hip and knee replacements. Other action included educating people about the right NHS service to use, to reduce unnecessary accident and emergency visits which cost £1 million a year.
The trust says that these measures have been successful and they have reduced costs by more than £700,000 a month and are now looking to reverse some of the measures, despite admitting that 2011/12 will be a challenging year during which they will need to save a further £25 million. However managers are confident they can achieve this after receiving additional funding of about £18 million from the regional health organisation, NHS North West.
Bury NHS trust will now resume funding up to three cycles of IVF treatment for couples who meet the NHS criteria. Furthermore, the Trust board promised to review the restrictions imposed on other treatments, but all referrals for hospital care will be scrutinised by the north-east sector gateway, which also includes Oldham, Heywood and Middleton and Rochdale PCTs, to check they fit strict criteria before being passed to hospitals.
Mr Paul Horrocks, chair of NHS Bury, told Manchester Evening News that he hoped the trust 'will start living within its means' by June 2011. Managers saved £10 million this year by negotiating a 'capping' deal with Pennine Acute Trust, which runs hospitals in Bury, North Manchester, Rochdale and Oldham, and will further reduce running costs by £2 million once the Greater Manchester 'super PCT' is established in spring 2011. This will also pave the way for the switch to GP-led healthcare by 2013.