FINANCE: Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin clinical commissioning groups will increase the age at which women can be eligible to NHS funded IVF treatment from 37-and-a-half to 40.

The change follows a review by the CCGs into their previous approach to assisted contraception and how it aligns with guidelines published by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence.


Increasing access to IVF will cost the CCGs an extra £100,000 a year

The commissioners estimate that extending the age criteria for couples eligible for one cycle of the fertility treatment will benefit an extra 10-15 couples at an extra of £100,000 a year in the Telford and Wrekin patch, according to board documents.

The policy change, which was agreed by Telford and Wrekin CCG’s board earlier this month and will soon be presented to its neighour’s board, comes as CCGs elsewhere in the country are reducing access to such fertility treatments due to financial difficulties.

A document outlining the policy change said: “This policy seeks to provide a safe, equitable and accessible fertility service to all couples where a couple has been unable to conceive, within… agreed eligibility criteria.”

The two groups have never been able to implement the full NICE guidance on assisted contraception on the grounds of affordability.

CCGs are not mandated to follow NICE clinical guidance, but they must be able to justify their decisions if they differ from it.

While the age threshold for eligibility has been increased, couples will still only be able to access one full cycle of treatment if they meet a number of clinical criteria.

NHS funding will remain unavailable to single women in the region.

NICE guidance recommends that for women under 40 who have unsuccessfully tried to conceive to two years, three full cycles of IVF should normally be offered.

The national body also recommends that women aged 40-42 who have tried unsuccessfully to conceive over two years should be offered one full cycle of IVF, provided they have not previously had IVF treatment.