Review of fertility services, including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
Update March 2019:
Since 2017, NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley and NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) engaged with Healthwatch, local mental health groups and had discussions face to face with people at roadshows held in community centres, supermarkets and healthy living centres. We also held a public meeting for both CCG areas.
More than 500 people responded to the IVF review survey (which is now closed) that was carried out face to face and also made available online and on paper. The survey was promoted via the Health Network, stakeholders, Facebook, Twitter, the CCG websites, flyers/posters, FAQ and press release.
Our IVF Review Engagement Report lists the feedback we have received from the public through our engagement activities and events and includes the results from the survey so that public views can feed into the decision making process.
The IVF review is being led by NHS Medway CCG who has already carried out engagement activities. NHS West Kent CCG is also taking part in the review and has carried out engagement activities within their own area in December 2018.
What happens next?
The feedback we have had about IVF is shared with commissioners who will consider it as part of their decision making process. If, having listened to people’s views, the CCGs decide to take the plans to the next step, a formal public consultation will be held to give people more information about the proposal and give people another chance to have their say. This page will be updated when we know more.
Alongside other clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across Kent and Medway, we are considering whether changes could be made to some aspects of fertility treatment, in particular in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
While most mixed sex couples who are trying for a baby naturally fall pregnant within two years, around 10 per cent do not. There are many medical reasons that can contribute to infertility but in about 25 per cent of cases, the reasons are not known. For these people, IVF, also known as assisted conception, is an option if they want to try to have a baby and if they meet the IVF eligibility criteria.
For those eligible, the NHS in Kent and Medway currently funds two cycles of IVF. This means that each eligible couple can have two attempts using fresh eggs and two using frozen eggs.
However, we are considering reducing this to one cycle, which would be one attempt with a fresh egg and one with a frozen egg. As part of the review into IVF provision, the CCG is also looking to make the treatment equally accessible to same sex couples.
More than 60 per cent of CCGs across England already offer just one IVF cycle funded by the NHS.
In 2017, the CCG funded two cycles of IVF for 23 patients at a cost of £86,992. If the number of cycles was reduced to one, the CCG would have been able to invest around £19,000 in other areas of healthcare locally.
Seeking your views
Before making any changes to services, the NHS needs to seek views from patients and stakeholders.
We have actively engaged with the public about these proposals and carried out a survey and held a public meeting at which local, interested people put forward their views and asked questions of clinical and CCG staff.
As mentioned, all feedback will be considered. If, having listened to people’s views, the CCGs decide to take the plans to the next step, a formal public consultation will be held to give people more information about the proposal and give people another chance to have their say.