IVF services reinstated for Peterborough and Cambridgeshire leaving campaigners overjoyed

Delighted campaigners are celebrating after the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced it would reinstate IVF services in the wake of a campaign supported by the Peterborough Telegraph.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 7:01 pm
Campaigners Amber Izzo and husband Marco.

The CCG announced in a public meeting today (July 6), it would be reinstating NHS funded IVF services after the proposal received ‘unanimous support’.

The news has been celebrated by couples and campaigners across the city, as they say the decision ‘changes lives’.

The CCG previously suspended the services in 2017 for financial reasons and had refused to consider a review until a financial surplus was achieved.

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This year, the CCG reported it achieved a ‘small surplus’ which led to the decision being reviewed, after lobbying by MPs across the county, ‘Fight For IVF’ campaigners and the Peterborough Telegraph.

The CCG was one of only three trusts across the country which did not offer any NHS funded rounds of IVF or similar treatments, which went against current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

Now the trust will offer one round of funded IVF to couples who are referred to specialist fertility services.

This still goes against NICE guidelines which recommend offering up to three rounds to patients.

Jan Thomas, Accountable Officer of the CCG, said after the meeting: “We are pleased to have taken the decision to reinstate NHS-funded IVF in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough today.

“We hope that this decision is welcome news for all of those people who find themselves in need of this service, and those who advocated for its reinstatement.”

The decision has been made to fund one cycle of IVF treatment with up to three implantations of embryos, giving people up to three chances of getting pregnant.

Fight for IVF campaigner Amber Izzo, who has campaigned for IVF services to be reinstated and advocated for patients experiencing infertility, is ‘ecstatic’ with the result.

Amber said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic that IVF provisions are being reinstated in Cambridgeshire.

“We have worked so hard to achieve this result and are so happy that couples in Cambridgeshire are finally going to be able to access the medical treatment they need, rather than being faced with an unfair postcode lottery, and that the CCG are recognising the devastating impact infertility has on the people living with it. I am so grateful to everyone who has signed our petition and shared their stories to help this happen.”

Amber also thanked the PT’s community reporter Rosie who has championed the campaign, she added: “I also want to say a massive thanks to Rosie Boon from the Peterborough Telegraph for being my constant wingwoman the whole way through by reporting on this from the beginning and being just as passionate as me.”

MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow, who has his own experience of IVF and has supported the campaign and rallied backing from MPs across the region, said: “I am thrilled with this decision as this is something I have been campaigning for since being elected as an MP.

“The real thanks, though, should go to campaigners like Amber Izzo and the team at Fight for IVF. What a brilliant job they have done mobilising couples and showing people power.

“If it wasn’t for IVF my beautiful daughter Becky wouldn’t be here.

“It’s heartbreaking to think of all those loving couples in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire that have been denied the chance to start a family.

“I would prefer it if the CCG would follow the official guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and offer three rounds of IVF, but this is at least a start.”

The cost of the treatments will be a recurrent cost of £902k per year and a one-off cost of £2.4m set for the patients that were not treated due to the suspension in commissioning IVF services over the last few years.

Details on how many rounds of IVF will be confirmed by the CCG after another report which is due to be announced in August 2021, this is when patients can expect to begin treatments once this is finalised.

Dr Mike Macnamee, Chief Executive of Bourn Hall which accepted Peterborough NHS patients before the initial suspension, says the news will bring hope to many.

He said: “All of us at Bourn Hall are delighted by the CCG’s decision and we look forward to welcoming NHS patients from Cambridgeshire back to our clinic.

“For the last four years the Cambridge clinic has been in the very strange position of being able to provide NHS IVF treatment to patients across the East of England – but not to those who live on our doorstep.”

Hannah Turner and her husband, from Cambridgeshire, had NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall. Their son Emmett was born in August 2016 – a year before Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG took the decision to cease funding.

“I would have been devastated if we hadn’t been able to have NHS-funded treatment,” said Hannah. “It is absolutely heartbreaking for those who have not had that option over the last four years and I am so delighted that this is set to change.”

Marta Jansa Perez, Director of Embryology at British Pregnancy Advisory Service Fertility, said: “It’s great to see this CCG recognising the unacceptable inequality that currently exists in fertility care and taking this step towards addressing it. Prior to this decision, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG was one of just three NHS bodies in the country that did not provide fertility services, leaving patients no option but to go private – if they could afford it.

“The IVF postcode lottery undermines the most fundamental principle of the NHS, that care should be provided according to need, and not the ability to pay. We are delighted that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG will now reinstate NHS fertility services, and BPAS congratulates the local campaigners and MPs who have worked hard to achieve this step towards equal access to fertility treatment.

“However, the problem is much wider than just one area. Fertility provision varies enormously across the UK, and thousands of patients each year are missing out on the care they desperately need. This year BPAS will open England’s first not-for-profit fertility service to help address this inequality, but we won’t have a truly fair system until all NHS bodies agree to provide three full cycles of IVF, in line with NICE guidance.”

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