Campaigners react with anger to decision to axe NHS funded IVF treatment in Croydon

Campaigners have reacted with shock at the decision to axe NHS funded IVF treatment in Croydon, making the borough the first in London where all treatment will need to be sought privately.

Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, which decided to decommission its IVF treatment to save more than £800,000 a year, followed through with the decision despite results from a public consultation showing 77% of respondents were opposed.

Susan Seenan, chief executive of Fertility Network UK, believes it is wrong for the CCG to cut provision for fertility treatment and ignore public opinion.

She said: “What gives them the right to cut it when they are going against public opinion, they are going against what is best for their patients and against the government guidance. That’s wrong.

“It could very well backfire on them – they are not thinking about the bigger picture.

“They are just looking at small savings and at fertility treatment as a soft option to cut, and people are just appalled.

“Not everyone can afford to pay for private treatment, and they shouldn’t have to, not when there is a directive which says women should be able to access NHS treatment.”

Sarah Ducasse, 32, from South Croydon began her first fresh cycle of IVF in 2012 at Croydon University Hospital after misdiagnosed appendicitis led to complications with conception.

The Estee Lauder business manager said: “It was the biggest emotional rollercoaster and it had a huge emotional toll.

“Women shouldn’t be denied that chance of motherhood just because we have something wrong with us.

“It should be a given and it shouldn’t be in question at all.”

Following her first cycle, Mrs Ducasse completed another two cycles at Lister Hospital which again proved unsuccessful and has now stopped treatment, deciding to overcome the next step of her life without children.

Mrs Ducasse said: “I feel angry for the couples who will now struggle with conceiving because I have been there and I know exactly what it’s like.

“It is heart-breaking, and the kind of impact that it has on your mental well-being and your relationships, not just with your partner, but your friends and family too, who are all going on to have children is huge.

“As a woman you dream of growing up and having children, and when that is denied where else do you go? It’s almost like an unwritten expectation of a woman.”

Mrs Seenan would like to see CCGs follow regulations set by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which recommend three cycles of IVF for women, and have a standard access criteria as implemented by the devolved nations.

A Croydon CCG Spokesperson said: “As of March 14, the CCG will only consider applications from GPs or consultants for funding IVF/ICSI for those with exceptional clinical circumstances.”

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, assistant clinical chair of the CCG and a GP in Croydon, said: “This is one of the hardest decisions of my professional career, and I wish we were not in the position of having to make it.

“However, it is our role to look at the entirety of health needs across the borough, and we have a statutory duty to prioritise the limited resources we have available to us.”

With around 400 women currently being seen at Croydon University Hospital, a spokesperson for Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said: “Croydon CCG has made a very difficult decision, but the impact cannot be underestimated.

“The CCG has made a commitment to continue funding patients already on our waiting list. However, the future of the service is now uncertain.”

Mrs Seenan said: “People deserve that right to try, there is national guidance that says if you are eligible you should be able to access NHS treatment, and the CCG is completely flouting that, and it’s very wrong.”

Featured image courtesy of Phil Beard, with thanks.

Related Articles