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Consultation launched on plans to stop NHS IVF treatment in north Essex

Library image of a pregnant woman having her blood pressure checked by her doctor. Picture: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.

Library image of a pregnant woman having her blood pressure checked by her doctor. Picture: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.

Plans to scrap IVF treatment on the NHS in north Essex could save the health service an estimated £386,000, it has been revealed.

The North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEE CCG) is proposing to stop offering the fertility treatment for all but a select group of patients, such as those having medical treatment which would leave them infertile.

It has launched a consultation on the proposal, along with other service cut-backs planned.

Dr Hasan Chowhan, clinical director at the NEE CCG, said: “We recognise infertility is a very difficult issue for those affected by it and we have not taken this proposal lightly or without engagement with other clinical professionals. We fully intend to review this decision in the near future.”

The CCG has revealed that in 2013/14 it paid for 107 fertility procedures,

Between 2013/14, the last year for which figures are available, the CCG paid for 107 fertility procedures which amounted to £386,000 in spending.

This money equates to either 25 breast cancer drug courses, 15 community nurses, 104 hip replacements or admission for 108 patients onto an acute stroke unit at Colchester General Hospital.

Other service restrictions being proposed include scrapping prescription gluten-free food for all but the young and pregnant or breastfeeding women, and potentially refusing non-urgent elective surgery to the obese or smokers unless they seek help to quit tobacco and lose weight.

Samantha Hepplewhite, acting chief officer at the NEE CCG, added: “We have managed to achieve around £35million savings over recent years. However this challenge will continue as we need to find a further £14m savings each year for the next four years.

“We have a requirement to stay within budget and if we do not implement these decisions and further proposals then we would have to select other services to restrict. Current local demands for healthcare services are costing more money than is currently available.”

The consultation on the proposals closes on September 7, and a series of engagement events are being held to allow people to find out more and have their say.

These are taking place on:

• June 23, 10am – Room 12a, Primary Care Centre, Turner Road, Colchester.

• June 25, 3pm – Tower Hotel, Main Road, Harwich.

• June 26, 3pm – Sam’s Hall, Community Voluntary Services Tendring, Rosemary Road, Clacton.

• July 7, 6pm – Room 12a, Primary Care Centre, Turner Road, Colchester.

• July 10, 2pm – Princes Theatre, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton.

• July 16, 6.30pm – Princes Theatre, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton.

To confirm attendance, or have your say, email NEECCG.enquiries@nhs.net, write to PALS, North East Essex CCG, Primary Care Centre, Turner Road, Colchester CO4 5JR, or to find out more visit www.neessexccg.nhs.uk.

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