By Joe Harker
Cuts to the NHS have led 13 areas in England to heavily restrict or stop offering IVF treatments. This has led to questions over location being a factor in getting IVF treatment.
The BBC reports that new restrictions on IVF will mean that only women aged 30 to 35 will be eligible. Fertility campaigners have said this would be "arbitrary and unethical" but the NHS may have to impose these restrictions in order to save money and "live within its means". Cost saving programmes suggest that cutting the number of IVF patients in half is a justifiable way of saving money. A spokesperson for NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire said: "We know how hard it can be for couples who are struggling to conceive and will continue to offer fertility treatment to hundreds of people every year.
"Clinical evidence shows that treatment between the ages of 30-35 offers the highest possible chance of success."
The Daily Mail reports that eight more areas in England will decide whether to impose restrictions on people accessing IVF treatment. Budget cuts are turning available IVF treatments into a "postcode lottery". NHS trust NICE suggests that women under 40 with fertility issues should be offered three cycles of IVF, while women aged 40 to 42 should have access to one cycle. Dr Gary Howsam, Chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, said: "We are now in the difficult position where we have to evaluate every service we commission."
The Fertility Network UK criticised the decision of the Hertfordshire Valley clinical commissioning group to suspend IVF treatment. Susan Seenan, Chief Executive of Fertility Network UK said: "We are appalled at Herts Valleys clinical commissioning group's (CCG's) decision to suspend NHS fertility services for six months while a public consultation on the future of NHS IVF is undertaken.
"Patients who need medical help in order to become parents will be devastated at the suspension and the news that Herts Valleys CCG, East and North Hertfordshire CCG and West Essex CCG are considering removing all NHS fertility services."
The Deputy Chief Executive of Fertility Network UK also criticised the decisions to cut or restrict access to IVF treatment on the NHS. Leceia Gordon-Mackenzie said the decisions were "short-sighted and a false economy".
Should the NHS stop offering IVF treatment, or should they resist the cuts and attempt to offer treatment all over England?