WOMEN in their twenties and thirties wanting IVF treatment in Castle Point and Rochford will only get two rounds of the treatment, after changes were agreed without formal public consultation.
The Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group approved plans to reduce the number of IVF cycles from three to two, for women aged 23-39, back in May.
Members also decided to extend access towomen aged 40-42, allowing them one cycle of IVF treatment at the same meeting.
The changes emerged after Southend’s CCG announced it was planning to change its IVF policy in the same way.
Both policies in Castle Point and Rochford and Southend, go against guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which suggest women aged 23-39 should be offered three cycles and women aged 40-42 one full cycle, providing certain criteria are fulfilled.
A spokesman for Castle Point and Rochford CCG confirmed a formal consultation did not take place, but members spoke to the public at monthly engagement events across the two areas.
Dr Mike Saad, chairman of NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG, said: “The CCG has taken a decision to extend access to IVF in Castle Point and Rochford, as well as vary what had previously been provided, to bring us more into line with other CCGs across the country.
“These are not decisions that have been taken lightly, nor have they been made with costs in mind. “In every decision it takes, the CCG applies common sense and clinical expertise to review health provision in the Castle Point and Rochford localities to ensure they are working properly and fairly for the communities we serve.
“One of the key advantages of being a CCG is we are small, flexible organisations which have the capacity to constantly monitor, review and update decisions to ensure they remain fit for purpose, our decisions on IVF provision will be no different.”
CHANGES are yet to be made to the number of IVF cycles women are allowed in Basildon and Brentwood.
Women aged 23 to 39 are currently allowed three cycles of IVF treatment, with no free cycles for women in their forties trying to get pregnant.
Tom Abell, NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG’s chief officer, said: “We’re aiming to implement an IVF service which fully complies with the new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance.
“However, alongside this we want to listen to people who’ve used IVF services in the past about their ideas and experiences, as we know we need to really improve the way that IVF services work together and support people who are going through a really stressful time.
“Once we’ve explored the options, we’ll talk to our local communities to get their views on our ideas, so we can make sure we end up with a better range of services in Basildon and Brentwood.”
GUIDELINES, about who should have access to IVF on the NHS in England and Wales, from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence were published in 2013.
According to the guidelines, women under 40 should be offered three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS if:
- They have been trying to get pregnant through regular unprotected intercourse for two years, or !
- They have not been able to get pregnant after 12 cycles of artificial insemination.
The guidelines also say women aged between 40 and 42 should be offered one cycle of IVF on the NHS if all of the following four criteria are met:
- They have been trying to get pregnant through regular unprotected intercourse for two years, or have not been able to get pregnant after 12 cycles of artificial insemination.
- They have never had IVF treatment before.
- They show no evidence of low ovarian reserve (this is when eggs in the ovary are low in number or low in quality)
- They have been informed of the additional implications of IVF and pregnancy at this age In both age groups if tests show IVF is the only treatment likely to help a woman get pregnant, she should be referred for IVF straight away.