Stoke & Staffordshire

NHS to pay £400,000 for IVF for Staffordshire couples

A primary care trust is to spend £400,000 to offer 66 couples one cycle of IVF treatment to try for a baby by next March.

A report by an all-party group of MPs last year revealed that NHS North Staffordshire was one of five trusts which refused to fund the treatment.

The trust said it changed its policy after considering new evidence about the mental health benefits of IVF.

The money includes £270,000 for 44 women who are already on waiting lists.

The Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, Paul Farrelly, previously campaigned against what he called the "unacceptable postcode lottery" of couples being unable to get IVF from the primary care trust (PCT) in North Staffordshire.

He said that commissioning was "so inflexible" that it was impossible for even the most needy of cases in Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands to get treatment.

"This appears to be them relenting for just one year and for mostly a backlog of requests," he said.

"I'm worried there will be a on-going problem that's not resolved beyond next March. We could be back to square one."

'IVF means everything'

The funding decision was sanctioned by North Staffordshire's new Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Chairman Dr David Hughes said: "It isn't a bottomless pit of money.

"For all the services we offer, we have a finite sum of money and the sum we're allocating to IVF is an amount we think is adequate to meet demand."

Thirty-year-old Marie Crutchley from Knutton spent £22,000 on IVF treatment in 2006 after NHS North Staffordshire refused to fund it.

She now has two sons, Ethan, five, and Sam, two.

"IVF means everything really. It just gives you a chance which when you feel like there's no hope of having children," she said.

"When we were first trying it was definitely a decision we had to make on whether we could save up the money and afford it, so it'll be amazing for people to have at least one try."

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