Help us to shape local IVF services for the future

When people living in the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight or Portsmouth (SHIP) areas seek treatment for infertility,  their local Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for funding fertility services (such as In-Vitro Fertilisation, or IVF) to help women become pregnant. 

IVF is a high-cost treatment and so it is important to make sure that the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the area offer IVF in the most effective way for the local population. They must also ensure that they balance the funding for this treatment alongside the other pressures on local NHS funding.

What happened?

The SHIP-wide ‘Priorities Committee’ reviewed the most recent evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness for IVF and Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). Please note that for this process the term ‘IVF’ is being used to describe both treatments

The Committee prepared a recommendation about the future commissioning of these services which was considered by each of the CCGs.

Why now?

In February 2013 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published updated clinical guidelines for fertility services. The non-compulsory guidelines included specific guidance for CCGs regarding IVF. 

How does NHS funding work?

Each CCG is allocated an annual budget which it uses to commission (buy) a wide range of health services and treatments for local people. These services include urgent care services, treatment for long-term conditions, community services, planned operations, x-rays and diagnostic tests. 

The CCGs role includes researching and planning which services are needed by the local population, buying those services in at the best possible price, and monitoring those services to ensure they are delivering what was agreed, and what people need. 

The NHS budget is limited so funding for any service or treatment must be balanced against the funding requirements for many other necessary local health services and treatments.

What is the current IVF policy?

There is a joint SHIP IVF Access Criteria which is available on our website (www.southeasternhampshireccg.nhs.uk/about-us/criteria-for-access-to-ivf.htm) and summarised below.

The latest NICE guideline, a non-binding recommendation, is available on their website at  www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG156.

The following table shows the current SHIP access criteria compared to the 2013 NICE guidelines.

Seeking your views 

A period of engagement was undertaken to gather the views of local people, their representatives, GPs and interest groups on whether funding for IVF is a priority for the NHS and on the access criteria. Each CCG will then consider the recommendation from the SHIP Priorities Committee in light of this valuable feedback. 

The consultation closed on 19 October 2014.