Women in Trafford may be denied free fertility treatment

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, On average, it takes four-and-a-half years to conceive through IVF

Some women in Greater Manchester could be denied IVF treatment because of a need to save money, NHS bosses said.

Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) confirmed that it is considering ending free fertility treatment in the hope of cutting £20m from its £345m budget by 2019.

Other proposals include stopping prescriptions for gluten-free items and products available over the counter.

The CCG, which meets on 27 March, said it faces "difficult decisions".

Ahead of agreeing to carry out non-urgent surgery, the CCG is also looking at requiring smokers to quit and obese patients to reduce weight.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

  • An egg is removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory
  • The fertilised egg is then returned to the woman's womb to develop
  • IVF worked for the first time on 10 November 1977. On 25 July 1978, the world's first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born
  • On average, IVF fails 70% of the time
  • The highest success rates are for women under 35
  • On average, it takes almost four-and-a-half years to conceive with IVF

Source: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority/Fertility Network UK

Trafford currently funds one full cycle of IVF for women aged 23-39 as well as some between 40 and 42 who meet additional criteria.

Treatments cost £424,000 each year for approximately 95 people, with a 20%-35% success rate.

Other areas in Greater Manchester including Bury, Oldham and Rochdale offer three cycles of IVF, while areas like Salford, Wigan and Stockport offer two cycles.

Bolton and Manchester also only offer one cycle.

Dr Mark Jarvis, Medical Officer of Trafford CCG, said: "Unfortunately we are in such a dire financial situation we have to consider desperate measures for next year."

He said it was "absolutely imperative that the people of Trafford are heavily involved in this decision-making process".

Other areas that have already stopped IVF funding altogether include Mid and North East Essex, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and South Norfolk.

Catherine Hall, of the campaigning group Fertility Fairness, condemned Trafford's proposal and said: "Infertility is a disease and IVF is a cost-effective treatment. It is as deserving as any other condition."

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