A CONSULTATION on proposals to cut the number of IVF cycles available to infertile couples in South Gloucestershire will end on September 15 at 5pm.

NHS bosses are having to consider restricting IVF eligibility to women aged 30 to 35, in order to help close the local NHS funding gap. 

Lib Dem councillor for Westerleigh, Claire Young said: “This is just the latest example of our local NHS being chronically overstretched. The reality is that more cuts of this kind will soon be on the way unless the Conservatives end the £80 million a year black hole in the NHS budget. We’ve launched a petition calling on the government to increase health funding so that NHS managers can concentrate on how to improve services rather than on how to cut them." 

“The government have said they want local NHS managers to end the postcode lottery over IVF services and adhere to NICE standards. But it is sheer hypocrisy for the Conservatives to say this if they refuse to provide the NHS with adequate funding. The Liberal Democrats campaigned at the last General Election to increase income tax by a penny on the pound to help fund the NHS. 

"I call upon all local residents to sign our petition, to make it clear to the Conservatives that we expect the NHS to be properly funded.”

South Gloucestershire Lib Dem health spokesperson, Sue Hope, added: “The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends up to three cycles of IVF for women up to the age of 40. Currently the NHS in South Gloucestershire only offers one cycle of IVF, and by reducing the upper age limit to 35, the service here will fall even further below NICE standards.”  

Conservative councillor Marian Lewis (Ladden Brook) said: “Our local NHS services have seen an increase the total funding allocation for South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset of £24.3 million, to a total of £1.154 billion for 2017/18, in line with the government’s commitment  to deliver extended GP access, increase mental health provision, tackle childhood obesity and diabetes treatment, and streamline access to all our NHS services. 

"In addition another £9.6M is being made available to South Gloucestershire from the Better Care Fund to deliver better Adult Social Care, support hospital discharge, and improve facilities for the disabled.

"Increasing funding, as proposed by the Liberal Democrats, without working continuously on efficiency savings, will not improve our services." 

Susan Seenan, chief executive of patient charity Fertility Network UK, said: "Many couples experiencing the emotional distress of not being able to have a baby without medical help will not meet this age criterion and will have their hopes of being able to try IVF dashed.
"Fertility problems do not just affect people physically, but mentally too: 90 per cent experience depression; 42 per cent have suicidal thoughts, and relationships are affected in 70 per cent of people." 

To respond to the public consultation, visit: www.southgloucestershireccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/current-engagements/nhs-service-proposals/fertility-treatment-eligibility/ 

To sign the Lib Dem petition, visit: www.southgloslibdems.org.uk/ivf