FINANCE: Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has approved plans to severely restrict access to specialist fertility services.

It will now only fund services such as IVF in “exceptional clinical cases”.

The policy came into effect immediately.

The CCG previously proposed restricting funding to cancer patients and HIV positive men.

Following a consultation process this summer, the CCG’s board decided to make funding decisions on a case by case basis.

It plans to review its policy in September next year.

CCG chair Caroline Dollery said: “It has been a incredibly tough decision for the CCG board to make as we aware it will be a huge disappointment for people affected by fertility issues in mid Essex. 

“The CCG has considered every aspect of its decision and in particular the profound concerns that some people have expressed about revising this policy. But at this moment in time the CCG needs to make £8m in savings and further savings next year.

“We have to consider the complete picture for the local NHS – current demands for services are costing more than the money available.”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that women should be offered three rounds of IVF on the NHS, but local commissioners make the funding decisions.

Most CCGs fall below national guidance, but fund at least one round. Vale of York CCG is the only commissioning body in England not to offer any IVF treatment.