Bourn Hall welcomes decision to reinstate NHS funded IVF

Donna Young, from Manea, underwent NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall in 2015.

Donna Young, from Manea, with son Ronnie. - Credit: BOURN HALL

Bourn Hall has welcomed the decision by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG to reinstate NHS-funded IVF treatment for those living in the county.

The CCG announced yesterday (July 6) that IVF will be available to NHS patients from Cambridgeshire after making  a landmark decision to reinstate funding for those who meet the strict eligibility criteria. 

The proposal is to fund one fresh cycle and up to two frozen embryo transfers, potentially giving patients three chances to achieve a pregnancy. The decision is subject to ratification next month.

Dr Mike Macnamee, chief executive of Bourn Hall, says the news will bring hope to many. He said: “All of us at Bourn Hall are delighted by the CCG’s decision and we look forward to welcoming NHS patients from Cambridgeshire back to our clinic.

Mike Macnamee is the CEO of Bourn Hall Clinic.

Mike Macnamee is the CEO of Bourn Hall Clinic. - Credit: BOURN HALL

 “For the last four years the clinic has been in the very strange position of being able to provide NHS IVF treatment to patients across the East of England – but not to those who live on our doorstep." 

Hannah Turner and her husband, from Great Stukeley, had NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall which worked first time. Their son Emmett was born in August 2016 – a year before Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG took the decision to cease funding. 

Hannah Turner, from Great Stukeley, with son Emmett, who was born after IVF treatment. 

Hannah Turner with son Emmet. - Credit: BOURN HALL

“I would have been devastated if we hadn’t been able to have NHS-funded treatment,” she says. “It is absolutely heartbreaking for those who have not had that option over the last four years and I am so delighted that this is set to change.” 

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It was 40 years ago that Bourn Hall co-founder, Professor Robert Edwards, first appealed to the health authority to make treatment at the world’s first IVF clinic available to NHS patients. 

He wrote at the time: "For a considerable amount of patients the only hope for a pregnancy is to undergo fertilization in vitro and embryo transfer, we have a proven success rate which is superior to that obtained by other methods.

"These patients have paid their contribution to the NHS and, now they want treatment, they are not being allowed to receive it.

"I cannot allow this situation to rest as it is, especially since, at long last you have been advised that it is professionally accepted that our approach offers the only hope of conception for some wome.

"I cannot see any excuse for excluding one group of patients from the correct form of treatment."

Funding was halted by the clinical commissioning group in 2017 against public opinion. This meant that Bourn Hall could treat NHS patients from Bedfordshire, Luton, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex – but not Cambridgeshire.

Bourn Hall is the place where the IVF pioneers established a clinic following their success with the first ‘test-tube’ baby Louise Brown and trained the consultants who would set up their own clinics worldwide, making the treatment available to millions of people. 

Dr Macnamee continued: “When you are experiencing infertility, your whole life can feel as though it is in limbo; being able to have treatment is so important. Even if people are not successful, they have the knowledge that they have done everything they could and can move on with their lives.” 

Donna Young, from Manea, underwent NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall in 2015 and she is now mum to Ronnie, aged five. Her IVF treatment also worked first time. 

“We often look back on our journey with Bourn Hall and are still so thankful for their support and for having our treatment funded by the NHS,” she said.

“Even offering one try on the NHS offers hope, we are proof of that. We had one try and were successful. This isn’t going to be the case for everyone but it can help people achieve their dream.” 

* Cambridgeshire has been one of only three CCGs in the country not to offer NHS-funded IVF.  

* The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG suspended funding for the treatment in 2017, arguing the decision was financially necessary owing to budget pressures.

* The decision was reviewed in 2019 but the treatment was not reinstated.

* The CCG estimates it would treat around 170 patients a year under the policy, at an annual cost of around £900,000.