IVF eligibility in Harrogate will not be extended to match national guidelines, health bosses decided at a meeting last week.
The Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group decided they will not change the districts eligibility criteria in this financial year from the current policy which has not seen a single patient qualify in the last year.
Costs were blamed for the decision, with a report estimating that offering the three rounds of IVF the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) says couples should be entitled to would cost £960,000 over the first three years.
Board member David Hall said: “In context of our current financial situation I don’t think we are in a position to make decision to move more towards NICE guidelines.”
GP Chris Preece added: “The feeling around the table is that we can’t afford that option so it looks like we aren’t going to be following NICE guidelines on this.”
National guidelines state that women under the age of 40 who have not conceived after two years should be offered three full cycles of IVF and woman aged 40 to 42 who have not conceived after two years should be offered one IVF cycle.
A spokesperson for Harrogate and Rural District CCG explained the current policy is that IVF is not routinely commissioned unless the patient’s clinician demonstrates the patient is an exception, in that they are different to the rest of the population who would normally be refused and they will benefit significantly more than the average patient.
In the past 12 months not one patient in the Harrogate district has met this criteria.
At the CCG meeting Dr Preece said: “It’s a very emotive and subjective, it is much more difficult to say what is the right decision.
“What ever we do with this will be wrong in some way.”
A second option of offering one single cycle of IVF to eligible women up to the age of 42 from the 2014/15 financial year was discussed at the meeting.
Bernard Chalk, chief financial officer told the group: “Unless we reduce our spending we cannot afford anything up to the end of this year. But next year we have the opportunity to invest in some level of IVF offering
Dr Jane Metcalf added: “We can’t afford it this year.
“Being offered one cycle gives some hope. We will have to have criteria and at some point this criteria will have to be harsh.”
The group will discuss the possibility of offering some limited IVF treatment from April 2014 in February’s meeting.
Dr Alistair Ingham, chair of CCG said: “Until April 2014 we can’t do anything. But we acknowledge that we are not NICE compliant and should be working to wards NICE compliancy.
“In principle we agree one cycle but we should reserve this decision until February.
“We hope that there would be some provision of IVF for patients in the Harrogate District.”
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