The was more news in the local press this week about the raft of NHS cuts in the West Cheshire area. These cuts are having a direct impact on local couples hoping to achieve their dream of starting a family after the number of NHS funded IVF cycles was cut from three to one. RHG Clinical Director, Luciano Nardo, was featured in the article, which can be read in full below.
Cutting back on pain-reducing hip injections, cosmetic procedures and IVF fertility treatments are among a raft of NHS savings actioned following a service review.
NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across Cheshire and Wirral are working together to ration healthcare because of ‘a rise in demand’ with West Cheshire CCG needing to plug a £13m financial blackhole.
The CCG says it has a ‘legal duty’ to reduce its deficit.
However, Labour politicians argue the Tory government is deliberately underfunding the NHS with an agenda to undermine free health care at the point of need to pave the way for privatisation.
The following are among cuts now implemented following a consultation:
- Stop funding to correct asymmetrical breasts
- Cease routine funding of surgery for enlarged breasts in men
- Introduce threshold for pain-reducing hip injections
- Introduce threshold for surgery to remove non-cancerous skin lesions
- Introduce threshold for ear wax removal in secondary care
- Introduce threshold for keyhole shoulder surgery
A proposal to offer replacement knee ops only to those in ‘severe pain’ has been dropped with the current policy retained. The CCG has also agreed to continue funding pharmaceutical intervention for erectile dysfunction however a robust prescribing policy will be introduced.
There was a plan to restrict or halt male and female sterilisations. A CCG report says only that ‘Female sterilisation is unchanged’. And there is no mention of what happened to the proposal to cease funding for circumcision on religious and cultural grounds.
A Daresbury-based fertility expert has slammed the decision to reduce the number of IVF cycles for couples desperate to have a baby from three to one. And couples will be forced to try and conceive for three years instead of two before they are considered eligible for treatment.
Dr Luciano Nardo, consultant gynaecologist and clinical director at Cheshire-based Reproductive Health Group, criticised the action and said it would further exacerbate the ‘postcode lottery’ of NHS services. In neighbouring Wirral hopeful parents are entitled to two free cycles of IVF.
He said: “We are seeing more and more cuts to fertility treatment across the country, and sadly West Cheshire now appears to be following suit, despite patients voicing their concerns in a consultation.
“There is clear clinical evidence showing the need for three cycles of IVF as opposed to one, and that’s why three cycles are recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).”
According to NICE, the typical success rate for each cycle is 20 to 35 per cent. The cumulative effect of three cycles increases the chances of getting pregnant to around 45 to 53 per cent.
Under the plans, male partners who smoke and are classed as either underweight or obese will also be denied free treatment. Currently these restrictions only apply to women.
Funding will also be stopped for sperm insemination, unless this is part of the IVF cycle, and for surgical sperm recovery, although patients with genetic conditions will be able to make individual funding requests.
NHS West Cheshire CCG spokesman Jonathan Taylor said: “NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group undertook a formal 12-week public consultation from October 25, 2016 to January 17, 2017.
The service review policy consultation was also carried out by all other Cheshire and Wirral Clinical Commissioning Groups.
“The results of the public consultations were subsequently considered by clinicians alongside evidence of clinical effectiveness, cost effectiveness and best practice.
“A report containing a number of recommendations was received by NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s public governing body meeting on March 16th, 2017.”