Couples in Croydon will find it more difficult to conceive after the borough became the first in London to axe In vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment in a bid to save the NHS millions of pounds.
Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will no longer fund the treatment in an effort to plug a £30m black hole after it was placed in financial special measures in 2016.
The CCG have said it needs to make savings of about six per cent of its commissioning budget of £484.3m for 2016/17.
It means women under 39 who have been unable to conceive will no longer get one round of IVF funded by the CCG, despite 77 per cent of 467 people who responded to a consultation said they wanted it to be saved.
But, the move could force more couples to explore private treatment where one cycle of IVF can cost up to £5,000. A cycle is when a single sperm is injected into a mature egg, which is then put into an assigned petri dish.
CCGs were created to assess an area’s needs, decide priorities and buy services on behalf of the population.
A spokesperson for Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said: “Croydon CCG has made a very difficult decision, but the impact cannot be underestimated.
“Our IVF service has treated thousands of women. The CCG has made a commitment to continue funding patients already on our waiting list. However the future of the service is now uncertain.”
Susan Seenan, chief executive of leading patient fertility charity Fertility Network UK and co-chair of Fertility Fairness said being denied IVF could impact on the mental health of those applying for the treatment.
She said: “Facing fertility problems is hard enough, without being denied medical help because of where you live. Not being able to have a child is linked with high levels of distress.
"90 per cent of people suffer depression, 42 per cent feel suicidal, 70 per cent experience problems in the relationship with their partner.”
Labour MP for Croydon North, Steve Reed, called on the CCG to review its plan and deliver funding top maintain services.
He said: “The NHS in London is in a desperate situation after years of underfunding from this Tory government.
“This decision will be heartbreaking for couples who will now be forced to pay thousands of pounds for private treatment, move away, or give up on their hopes of becoming parents.
“The NHS is supposed to be a fair and universal service yet under this government, a couple in neighbouring Surrey will now be treated better than a couple a few miles down the road in Croydon.
“Croydon CCG should rethink their decision and the Government should step in and give our NHS the funding it needs to maintain services.”
Are you seeking IVF treatment in Croydon? Share your views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org