Health chiefs challenged over Mansfield and Ashfield IVF funding cuts

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Health bosses have been asked to look again at controversial proposals which would prevent many would-be parents from accessing free IVF treatments in Mansfield and Ashfield.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee has looked into plans put forward by Mansfield & Ashfield and Newark & Sherwood Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to:

+ Narrow the eligible age range for women from 18-42 years to 25-34 years;

+ Bring in an upper age limit of 40 for men.

The proposals are part of a series of cost-cutting measures being proposed by CCGs to ease budget pressures.

However, members of the committee said they were disappointed that the public consultation carried out by the CCGs – had only looked at options of an upper age limit for women of 40 or stopping NHS funded IVF all-together; and not the option which it is ultimately looking to implement.

Amanda Sullivan, Chief Officer of the Mansfield and Ashfield CCG.

Amanda Sullivan, Chief Officer of the Mansfield and Ashfield CCG.

Committee members were also concerned that would-be parents in Mansfield, Ashfield and Newark and Sherwood were not being given the same opportunities to start a family as those living in other parts of Nottinghamshire and elsewhere in the country.

Committee chairman Councillor Colleen Harwood (pictured top) said: “Whilst we agreed in simple terms that the consultation appeared to have been done effectively, we have grave concerns over the decision-making following the consultation.

“IVF is often a last resort for couples facing the heartache of infertility, and it can give these couples the chance of achieving their dream of a family. Thirty-four is a low cut-off when many women spend their twenties and early thirties building their careers and saving to buy their own home.

“This means many women may already be past the cut-off age for IVF before they try to start a family and even realise they are struggling to have children.

“It’s not right that residents of Mansfield, Ashfield and Newark and Sherwood face a potential postcode lottery, where residents in other parts of Nottinghamshire and the country are offered IVF on the NHS at a higher age than them.

“I would urge everyone to participate in future consultations so that their views are heard on this important and life-changing matter.”

The committee has recommended that the CCGs consults fully on the specific change it is proposing and reconsiders its decision in light of the results.

The committee has also requested that careful consideration of its recommendation is made at board level.

Speaking in February, Dr Amanda Sullivan, chief officer for both the CCGs (pictured bottom) told the Chad: “We do recognise the impact that our decision will have on local people but we have to balance the needs of our whole population and ensure that there is enough money to maintain high quality and safe services.”