IVF treatment is no longer available on the NHS for patients in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire area
NHS funded fertility treatment has been indefinitely suspended for patients registered with surgeries in north-west Cambridgeshire.
The cash-strapped Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group made the decision in a bid to save £700,000 a year.
It means women living in areas such as Wansford, Oundle and Kings Cliffe will no longer qualify for IVF treatment.
MP for North West Cambridgeshire, Shailesh Vara, has criticised the decision.
It goes against the National Institute for Health and Care England guidelines which state routine IVF treatment should be provided by all CCGs.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG is one of only five in the country not to do so.
Mr Vara said: “For far too long fertility services have been seen as a ‘postcode lottery’ and this deeply unfair decision will cause untold distress and suffering to couples wishing to start a family.
“Given that the sum of money involved is such a small proportion of the CCG’s budget but one with such a significant and meaningful effect on the community, even at this late stage I sincerely hope the CCG will reconsider its decision.”
The CCG has confirmed the decision will only be reviewed when it achieves “a financial surplus”.
Specialist fertility services had already been suspended in September 2017.
It has saved £598,000.
Clinical chairman of the CCG, Dr Gary Howsam, said: “Clinicians and managers alike acknowledge that this was a difficult decision to make and would have an impact on individuals and their families, but that in the current financial climate, it was not reasonable to reinstate the service.
“Anyone with fertility problems can still go to their GP who can discuss the treatment options available to them. Couples can still be referred to hospital for further tests to investigate the cause of their infertility, and many of these causes can be successfully treated without the need to go on to have IVF.”
The CCG has highlighted two exceptions to the ruling.
Patients could be eligible for treatment on the grounds of preserving fertility where it has been compromised by treatment and in the case of those who have a viral infection like HIV.
More by this authorAndrea Scholes