Oxford

Oxfordshire's NHS vasectomy service could be withdrawn

Vasectomy scissors Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The vasectomy service's waiting list is becoming "unmanageable"

Oxfordshire's leading health authority is considering discontinuing NHS vasectomies entirely to save money.

The county's clinical commissioning group (CCG) is considering stopping the surgery, or introducing criteria to limit the number of men who can have the operation.

Referrals to the service were suspended in August 2018 as there was a backlog of more than 450 operations.

Oxfordshire CCG said it was under "considerable financial challenges".

The county has been without an NHS vasectomy service for new referrals since August, when the CCG said it was "overspent and under capacity, so the waiting list is becoming unmanageable".

'Unjust'

The NHS contractor, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, had its contract extended until the end of March to get through the backlog of patients.

Oxfordshire CCG has previously advised men considering a vasectomy to seek private operations or use alternative forms of contraception.

But one man from Oxfordshire who wanted a vasectomy said limiting it to "those men who can afford it seems unjust".

The man in his 30s, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "I've put a lot more thought into not having children than many people do into having them.

"There are increasingly few elective procedures carried out by the NHS, but in the case of vasectomy it seems especially financially short-sighted."

He said the cost of an unwanted child to the NHS was far greater than the surgical contraception.

The CCG, which commissions NHS services across the county, is holding a consultation to seek patients' opinions.

In its consultation, the CCG said: "It's our responsibility to ensure limited resources are allocated to where they are most needed in the NHS, which might mean some services are delayed or discontinued."

Complex vasectomies, which require general anaesthetic, are still available from Oxford University Hospitals Trust after a referral from a GP.

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