On 29th January 2019, Rochdale’s Integrated Commissioning Board (ICB) has agreed to reduce the number of fully funded IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) cycles from three to one, following a six week consultation period. Moving to one funded cycle of IVF will save the borough up to £259,000 every year and it will fall in line with the vast majority of other areas.
The consultation ran from 3rd December 2018 to 16th January 2019 attracting some 369 responses via an online survey. There were a number of points raised that individuals or couples with pre-existing medical conditions would be disproportionately disadvantaged by a proposed change in policy. Having reviewed this the ICB agreed that those with a clinically exceptional need will be able to have their case evaluated via an Individual Funding Request (IFR) route and so may be eligible for more than one funded round.
The preference signalled by most respondents in the consultation was for the current three cycles to remain, however the ICB concluded that the decision to recommend a change in policy to one funded cycle is supported by evidence, as well as the need to respond to the significant financial pressure currently facing the NHS as a whole.
The policy was recommended to change with immediate effect (9am on 30th January 2019). This change in policy will not affect any patients who have already been referred to an IVF service (including those who are waiting but have not yet been seen) and patients on any other part of the IVF pathway, including tests for subfertility.
Understandably IVF services evoke emotional responses from people. As commissioners we are responsible for funding health and social care services and we have a duty to ensure it is used to best effect.