The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has hinted at plans to re-establish NHS-funded IVF.
The decision to cut fertility treatment - other than for patients undergoing cancer treatment and for men who have a chronic viral infection - was taken in September 2017 to save the cash-strapped CCG money.
Now Jan Thomas, accountable officer, has hinted that plans to partly re-establish IVF treatment in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire could be just around the corner.
Speaking at the meeting of Peterborough City Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, she said: “I may be putting my neck on the line by saying this, but if the NHS in this region were to reconsider funding for at least one round of IVF, then I would not oppose it.”
Several authorities had saved money through the discontinuation or suspension of NHS-funded IVF treatment which in Peterborough was expected to save £637,000, although in South Norfolk this was completely reversed.
In Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, the CCG’s Governing Body is reviewing whether to re-establish full IVF treatment at its meeting on May 14.
“The problem is that there is a £20 million gap in funding, and if we reinstate NHS-funded IVF treatment, then something else will have to suffer as a result,” Ms Thomas added.
Cllr Brian Rush said: “I hear what you say about a funding gap, but to deny this form of treatment to young women desperate to have children is simply wrong, in my opinion.
“It’s not as if IVF is a ‘designer treatment’, it is a treatment of last resort, and for some women who want to conceive this miracle has been their last and only chance.”
Ms Thomas responded: “I hear what you are saying councillor, and in many respects I agree with you. As I have said already, if the Governing Body decided to fund at least one round of NHS IVF treatment, then I would not object to that.
“The problem is the £20 million gap in funding is not simply going to go away. It really exists, and if we reinstate IVF treatment then something else will have to suffer as a result.
“I would like this committee to really consider what would be acceptable to leave out as an NHS treatment. Because some treatments only affect a few people, but what if we chose to leave out something that affected hundreds or even thousands of people?
“Would it be fair to reinstate NHS-funded IVF treatment if in doing so another treatment had to go affecting huge numbers of people?”
Cllr Ansar Ali pointed out: “The simple fact is that the health service is under-funded whichever way we look at it, and this is an increasingly difficult problem to solve.”
The committee unanimously approved a proposal that the CCG’s clinical body consider the reinstatement of NHS-funded IVF treatment, at least for one round.