IVF treatment could be axed by St Helens CCG

Health chiefs in St Helens proposed axing IVF services
Health chiefs in St Helens proposed axing IVF services

Cash-strapped health chiefs in St Helens have proposed the closure of its specialist IVF fertility services as part of its financial recovery plan.

NHS St Helens Clincial Commissioning Group (CCG) also proposed cutting its gluten free and over the counter medication services.

Following a low-key public consultation, gluton free services will be axed, while further consultation will take place on over the counter medication and a further review will take place over the IVF proposal.

Last year, £103,000 was spent on gluton free services.

The CCG sparked controversy earlier this year when its announced plans to stop providing non-emergency surgery.

The plan was withdrawn following a backlash from the public and professionals.

Geoffrey Appleton, the CCG’s lay chairman, said: “The three areas we looked at during our consultation were gluten free, over the counter medication and specialist IVF fertility services.

“We had a really positive response from local people and representative groups, who were keen to make their views heard.

“I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to participate in the consultation exercise; – all the responses have now been considered and we have been able to reach a decision on two of the areas.”

A CCG spokesman said: “There was overwhelming support for the proposal to stop providing gluten-free foods on prescription (unless there are specific circumstances whereby a dependent patient could be at risk of dietary neglect) with two thirds of responders agreeing with our proposal.

“Last year we spent £103,000 (plus additional costs for processing the items). The money saved will be reinvested into other health services in St Helens.

“The proposal to stop routinely commissioning specialist fertility services (by placing restrictions on age referral criteria) had mixed reactions.

“In relation to women who are most relevant to the proposal 45 per cent of respondents were against the CCG’s proposal compared to 39 per cent in favour.

“The consultation and feedback received has led the CCG to review this proposal. It has been decided that more work is required and this can’t progress any further at this stage.

“The proposal to stop providing over the counter/ minor ailment medicines for short-term and self-limiting conditions such as painkillers, cough and cold remedies, antihistamines and some skin conditions is still being considered by the CCG. As soon as a decision has been reached it will be communicated.”