Obese People Could Have IVF Treatment Access Limited in Worcestershire

An NHS trust in Worcestershire has become one of the first to consider restricting access to IVF to overweight individuals.

Couples attempting to utilise the treatment in order to achieve pregnancy may be denied the IVF solution if deemed obese.

And financial malaise in the NHS can be blamed for this decision.

Three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Worcestershire claim that they face ending the financial year £25 million over budget unless savings are made.

The three CCGs have a combined budget of £717 million.

Leaders at the NHS trust suggest that major financial savings must be made in Worcestershire owing to the public demand for an increasingly diverse range of services.

It is asserted by health service bosses that the existing demand is simply unsustainable.

As the health service in Worcestershire continues to examine where savings should be made, a public questionnaire has been launched seeking the opinions of the public regarding where the axe should ultimately fall.

Suggestions include restricting access to IVF which costs £500,000 a year and restricting treatments for patients with unhealthy lifestyles such as heavy drinkers, smokers and obese people.

And Worcestershire health bosses are pains to point out that this survey included the critical text indicating that denial of IVF will occur “particularly where the need for that operation has been partially caused by their own unhealthy lifestyle”.

Other potential options include restricting access to chiropody (£2 million a year), and restricting access to cataract surgery for people with minor vision difficulties (£3 million a year).

Commenting on the issue, a spokesman for the three CCGs Indicated that the idea was still being floated at present, but that it was under serious consideration.

“No decisions or even formal proposals are being made; this is just a very broad engagement exercise to see what people think. The results of this survey will inform future plans we make as healthcare commissioners and further engagement work will follow. If any of these ideas are considered in more detail in the future then we would undertake a more formal consultation with the public, providing clear proposals, the reason for these proposals, and invite further public discussion about such plans.”

The spokesperson further indicated that the trust was confident that it was taking the right decision, and that’s public input would be particularly valued.

“We believe this is absolutely the right thing to do to make sure we are reacting to the views of our local population and having an open and honest discussion with them is the best way to achieve this.”

But Peter Pinfield, chairman of patient watchdog HealthWatch Worcestershire, Believes that savings will have a negative impact on services, and encourage the public to participate in the questionnaire in order to illustrate the major difficulties that will ultimately result.

“This is about finding out what the people of Worcestershire think. Let’s have a wide debate and encourage as many people as we can to contribute. Yes NHS funding is increasing but it’s not keeping up with demand. We’re living longer and the NHS is being squeezed.”

Worcestershire health bosses will terminate the survey on 30th May and then seek results and ultimate conclusions.


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