Government urged to help 'reinstate free IVF' in Croydon

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Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group said the decision to withdraw funding was taken after careful consideration

The government has been asked to intervene in the withdrawal of NHS funding of IVF treatment in the south London borough of Croydon.

The local clinical commissioning group (CCG), which commissions healthcare for the borough, said it made the decision to withdraw free IVF to save money.

A borough council committee has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt asking him to look at the decision.

The Department of Health said it would respond to the letter in due course.

A spokesperson said: "Fertility problems can have a serious and lasting impact on those affected, which is why we expect all CCGs to implement NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines."

Croydon's CCG said IVF was still available to those with "exceptional clinical circumstances".

NHS oversight group NICE recommends women under 40 can be offered up to three free IVF cycles on the NHS, but the final decision lies with CCGs.

'Difficult decision'

In the letter, Croydon Council's health and social care scrutiny sub-committee said the withdrawal of funding had resulted in a postcode lottery as residents of other London boroughs continued to have access to free IVF treatment.

It said Croydon CCG had been left a large deficit by the previous primary care trust and due to historical underfunding and had to find savings of £36m this year.

Sub-committee chairwoman Carole Bonner said: "Not only are we asking for the decision to be reversed, but we are also asking for funding from the government to address the balance."

Leader of Croydon Council Tony Newman said: "It's true to say that the decision to withdraw funding will be reviewed in a year, but even if the funding is restored at that point there would be residents who have passed the age limit and missed the chance of conceiving."

Croydon CCG, which was placed in financial special measures in 2016 for NHS overspending, said the decision could help save £836,000 per year.

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, from Croydon CCG, said: "We took this difficult decision only after careful consideration and discussion in the context of the increasingly challenging financial position we face.

"We have a statutory requirement to prioritise frontline services for the people of Croydon and live within the financial resources available to us."

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