London

Croydon axes IVF funding in 'London first'

IVF embryo selection Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group said it had to balance the need for all NHS services across the borough

Couples in south London are believed to be among the first in the capital to be denied access to IVF on the NHS.

Croydon's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which commissions healthcare for the borough, said it made the decision to help save £836,000 per year.

It was placed in financial special measures in 2016 for NHS overspending.

NHS oversight group NICE recommends women under 40 can be offered up to three free IVF cycles on the NHS, but the final decision lies with the CCGs.

During the consultation between January and March, Croydon CCG said it had fewer than 50 couples on the waiting list for IVF who would be among the last to receive treatment before the list was closed.

It estimated it had previously helped about 150 couples per year with one free cycle of IVF.

'Pay, move, give up?'

Croydon CCG said: "IVF is an expensive treatment, which can often prove unsuccessful.

"Given our finite resources, there is a real need to balance funding for this treatment with all other services and treatments across the borough."

Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, said it left couples with a "heartbreaking decision" - to pay thousands of pounds for private treatment if they could afford it, to move away, or to give up on their hopes of becoming parents.

He said: "The NHS is supposed to be a fair and universal service, yet under this government a couple in neighbouring Surrey will now be treated better than a couple a few miles down the road in Croydon."

Mr Reed is calling on the CCG to reconsider its decision, that he said went against the outcome of the public consultation.

Richmond CCG is also considering scrapping its routine IVF provision due to financial challenges. A consultation runs until 4 April.

Nicola Blackwood, minister for public health and innovation said: "This is unacceptable. All CCGs should implement NICE guidelines as we know fertility problems can have a serious and lasting impact on those affected."

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