MP furious over lack of IVF treatment

A FURIOUS Essex MP has branded a decision not to provide local NHS fertility treatment for couples desperate to conceive as “perverse”.

James Hore

A FURIOUS Essex MP has branded a decision not to provide local NHS fertility treatment for couples desperate to conceive as “perverse”.

It emerged earlier this month that families from north Essex and Suffolk wanting IVF could face the strain of travelling as far as away as Leicestershire despite having a leading clinic in Colchester.

The Isis fertility clinic has been providing treatment for NHS patients for the past four years but has been dropped following an NHS policy change that will see women benefit from three free IVF treatments.

The decision, by the NHS East of England Specialised Commissioning Group, to withdraw funding came despite the centre having one of the best pregnancy rates in the country for women under the age of 35 - 10 % above the national average.

There is no right of appeal but Bernard Jenkin, the North Essex MP, has called for a review of the decision.

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He said he wants to know how the decision was made, especially as four of the five centres awarded contracts are outside the Eastern region, in Leicester, Oxford and two in London whilst the fifth is a private clinic in Cambridge.

He said: “The decision not to award Isis a contract seems completely perverse.

“I have seen the criteria on which they assessed the clinics and have many questions which need answering, including why they have not included patient experience.

“My concern is for local patients - both now and in the future - who will suffer as a result of this decision being made. My view is this verdict should not go unchallenged.”

Isis director Mark Passmore, said: “It seems what they have given with one hand, they have taken away with the other.

“We want to know why, when there is a first-class facility like ours delivering excellent results on the doorstep, people should be forced to travel so far when they are extremely stressed and emotionally vulnerable?

“This decision completely flies in the face of Government guidelines which emphasise that patients should be given choice.”

A spokeswoman for the group which commissions services on behalf of all 14 PCTs in the East of England region, said: “Patients registered with GPs in the East of England and who meet specific eligibility criteria, will be offered a choice of five fertility service providers for their treatment.

“Patients previously have not had the benefit of such a wide choice of treatment centres.”