Mid Essex CCG funds fertility services for around 70 to 100 people each year but said changes are needed to help reduce its budget deficit. The CCG anticipates a £15.7 million deficit this year, but by adding restrictions to its fertility services it aims to save up to £550,000 each year. Its current annual budget for fertility services, including IVF, intrauterine insemination and donor insemination is £750,000.
The CCG has published three proposals for consultation. The first proposal is to continue funding under its current policy, which provides funding for up to three cycles, but it says this option will not produce any cost savings.
Under its second proposal, the CCG is considering permitting only one cycle of IVF, rather than the three cycles recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which could result in savings of up to £250,000.
The third proposal involves limiting access to fertility treatment to cancer patients and HIV-positive men, which the CCG estimates could save up to £550,000. The CCG has stated that this is its 'preferred option'.
The CCG's medical director, Donald McGeachy, said: 'In Mid Essex we have to manage a complex set of circumstances that are currently pushing our spending over the limits of our funding allocation. It's important that we take some difficult decisions now to secure the financial position for future healthcare'.
The CCG aims to consider all feedback submitted by 8 September 2014. It says it will take into consideration not only the views of experts and local residents, but also the pressure on its financial resources as well as national guidelines.
Commenting on the proposals, chief executive of Infertility Network UK, Susan Seenan, said: 'The things they are suggesting are just appalling, really shocking. It's unbelievable that they are even thinking about restrictions like this'.
The charity said that the CCG's proposals are potentially discriminatory.