Steve McCabe MP secures debate on the deteriorating provision of IVF services

A group of cross-party MPs, led by Steve McCabe (Birmingham Selly Oak) have secured a Backbench Business debate in Parliament in the New Year on the decommissioning of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other NHS fertility services.


Steve McCabe called for the debate after being contacted by constituents who have had distressing experiences trying to get fertility treatment through the NHS.


In the last year, three clinical commissioning groups (South Norfolk, Mid-Essex CCG and North East)have already decommissioned their assisted conception services as a cost saving measure and now a further twenty-six are either considering reducing provision or decommissioning their assisted conception services entirely.


Assisted conception services, like IVF, have for a long time been subject to a postcode lottery because CCGs, which hold the budgets for healthcare, are not following the long standing National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines. A national audit carried out in 2015 found that more than eight in ten CCGs in England do not comply with the NICE guidelines on IVF treatment, and the situation is deteriorating rapidly as CCGs try to save money due to tight budgetary constraints.


A recent Early Day Motion, tabled by Steve McCabe calling on the government to stop CCGs decommissioning their assisted conception services has demonstrated the cross-party support for this issue.


The three hour long debate, which will give MPs an opportunity to voice their constituents concerns, is scheduled to take place on Thursday the 19th of January at 1:30 pm.


Steve McCabe said:

“We already have a situation where IVF services are subject to a postcode lottery and couples are routinely unable to access an appropriate level of treatment. As CCGs desperately try to balance their budgets, we face the risk of widespread decommissioning of IVF services across England. This comes down to fairness and it certainly isn’t fair that where you live determines whether you are able to access IVF services.”


“Two of my constituents were refused IVF treatment earlier this year because their partners had children from a previous relationship. This kind of 'moral judgment' shouldn't be used to deny treatment. The Government must now recognise the pressure that these decisions have on couples’ health and relationships by ensuring that CCGs comply with the national NICE guidelines on IVF treatment.”


“I am delighted to have secured this debate and I hope it will raise awareness about the potential scale of this issue. Up to twenty-nine CCGs in England could soon be operating with a severely reduced IVF services or worse still, no service at all. MPs from all parties need to work together on this issue and develop a consensus that the same commissioning rules should apply across the whole country.”

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