FINANCE: Clinical commissioning groups in north west London have decided to retain their IVF restriction policy, so treatment will only be funded for couples who do not already have children, or children from a previous relationship.

A document to the North West London CCGs collaboation board said there had been discussions at Hillingdon CCG over whether this was equitable.

It said the current policy was that IVF will be funded for couples “who do not have any living biological or adopted children from their current relationship,or from any previous relationships” – something that Hillingdon had questioned the fairness of.

The document said: “The [Hillingdon] panel had asked what mechanism patients might use to challenge this social criterion in such instances where couples may feel that the exemption applying to their particular circumstances is not fair. It was reported that benchmarking against other CCGs showed the policy position of excluding from having IVF treatment couples with one or more children from either the current or a previous relationship is very widely adopted.”

The report said reversing the policy would cost north west London’s CCGs £1m.

It added: “In discussion, it was felt that the removal of the threshold would serve to import subjective, non-clinically based decision making into the CCGs’ approach to the policy, and would disproportionately favour access to IVF over and above access to other clinical treatments for which available funding would necessarily reduce as a result.

“The board was reminded of the CCGs’ statutory duty not to exceed their financial allocations and the risks that such apolicy change would pose to this.”