Health chiefs agree to review IVF policy in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire in wake of MPs’ support for campaign

Health chiefs have agreed to review their decision to suspend IVF treatment in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire in response to a letter from MPs backing a campaign to have the service reinstated.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 5:07 am
PT community reporter Rosie Boon and MP Paul Bristow at the online meeting with campaigners.

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow contacted the region’s MPs after discussing the situation at a meeting organised by the Peterborough Telegraph with city campaigner Amber Izzo and supporters from her Fight For IVF group,

MPs from across the county called for the reinstatement of IVF services in the area and signed a joint letter to the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The services were initially suspended in September 2017 and following a review in 2019 the CCG decided to ‘suspend indefinitely’, until the trust achieved a financial surplus.

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IVF campaigners Hayley and Amber broadcast on social media.

Amber Izzo from Peterborough who formed Fight For IVF and other couples across the city have shared their heartbreak following that decision and the mental, physical and financial effects this has had on them.

The letter written to the CCG by Mr Bristow was supported by MP for North East Cambridgeshire, Rt Hon Steve Barclay, MP for South Cambridgeshire Anthony Browne, MP for South East Cambridgeshire Lucy Fraser QC, MP for North West Cambridgeshire Shailesh Vara, MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner and MP for Huntingdon Jonathan Djanogly.

The letter called for the CCG to acknowledge the ‘unacceptable situation’ that Peterborough and Cambridgeshire is one of only three trusts in the country to offer no NHS funded IVF cycles.

Now, Jan Thomas, Accountable Officer and Gary Howsam, Clinical Chair for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG have issued their response.

The joint statement read: “As you will be aware, we made the difficult decision to suspend funding for specialist fertility services in September 2017 following public consultation, as a result of the financial constraints within which we have to work to commission care for our rapidly growing population.

“The CCG’s Governing Body reviewed this decision in August 2019 and agreed not to reinstate services at that moment in time.

“Clinicians, managers and Governing Body members alike have all recognised that our decision regarding IVF services was a difficult one to make. As a result of concerns raised during the public consultation in 2017, we monitored the potential impact of this decision on the number of multiple births via first round IVF that took place abroad, as well as any potential impact on mental health services.

“During our monitoring work we found that our main Trusts were not aware of any medical issues arising from patients receiving IVF treatment abroad and did not see a related increase in multiple births. There was no reported increase of patients accessing mental health services for whom fertility had been a major issue contributing to mental state.

“We remain committed to reviewing the decision regarding specialist fertility services and we will be working with our Governing Body over the remainder of this financial year to discuss if we are able to reinstate them next year.

“We are aware of the hard work of passionate people in our area, including the campaigners who form part of Fight for IVF, to make their voices heard about the care we commission for our population. We would welcome an opportunity to have a constructive conversation with Fight for IVF and other campaigners in our area to provide further detail on the context within which we have to operate as a CCG that continues to be under significant financial pressure.”

Paul Bristow said: “I am pleased the CCG have committed their Board to reviewing this misguided policy for next year.

“But it is worth remembering that by denying loving couples IVF NHS services, they are ignoring national guidance and what Ministers have told them they should be providing.

“I also do not accept that there has been no mental health impact. You only need to hear stories from couples in Peterborough and from the Fight for IVF campaign to see this cannot be true.

“The plan is clear.

“The CCG have to listen to MP and local campaigners, and reinstate IVF services when they next consider this policy. We have to end this immoral postcode lottery.”