IVF heartbreak could be over for Harrogate couples

Plans to offer IVF to couples struggling to conceive were approved by the Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group today.

Women up to the age of 42 living in the area will now be offered one cycle of IVF treatment.

The Governing Body capped the amount they will spend on treatment at £120,000 but agreed this could be revisited throughout the year depending on demand.

Not one person had qualified for IVF treatment since the current policy to commission ‘only in exceptional circumstances’ was introduced in 2010.

The CCG say that this was a decision made by the former Primary Care Trust (PCT) because of financial pressures.

Dr Gareth Roberts, local GP and lead for planned care at the CCG, said: “The unavailability of IVF treatment for couples in the area has been a concern over the past few years and it’s something that we, as the new leaders of the local NHS, have been exploring since we were established. We recognise how the old policy may have seemed unfair for local couples, especially when people living in other parts of the country have access to such treatment.

“It is important to stress that we are still under great financial pressure and this will continue well into the next financial year. Having looked at the options available to us around IVF, we feel the option we have chosen will benefit a significant number of couples in the area whilst still being able to maintain healthcare services for all the local population.

“We recognise that our new policy on IVF still doesn’t fully comply with NICE guidance, however, I am sure that local people will agree that it’s a positive step in the right direction.”

The decision to offer once cycle of IVF still falls short of NICE guidelines which state that women under the age of 40 who have not conceived after two years should be offered three full cycles of IVF.

It is expected that the changes will be implemented from May 1.

A spokesperson for the CCG said: “The CCG is now looking at how it will work with local hospitals and GP practices to plan out and implement the ways in which people can access the service. This will be in place in the next couple of months. Members of the public, GPs and hospital staff will be updated when further details are available.”

The CCG also agreed to spend a further £1million on mental health care provision in the district during 2014/2015, including see next Thursday’s Advertiser for an exclusive report on the future of health care in the Harrogate district,