Have your say on proposals to restrict access to three non-urgent services

NHS Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (BaNES CCG) has begun engaging with the public on proposals to restrict access to fertility treatment, vasectomies and female sterilisations. The proposals come during a time of significant financial challenge for many CCGs around the country as NHS budgets are stretched by an unprecedented demand for services and changing needs among the population.

BaNES CCG, which is responsible for buying and monitoring NHS health services in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), is proposing to remove NHS funding for vasectomies and female sterilisations in all but exceptional circumstances.

It is also proposing to continue providing one cycle of IVF for individuals who qualify for NHS-funded fertility treatment, but that to qualify, women need to be aged 23–35 years, men under 55 years and couples need to have been trying for a baby for at least two years. As with vasectomies and sterilisations, the CCG will still consider funding IVF treatment for people who do not meet these criteria but for whom there are exceptional circumstances.

“When we announced our financial position in June, we were open about the fact that we would need to make difficult decisions about the best way to fairly distribute NHS resources in B&NES,” said Dr Ruth Grabham, the CCG’s Medical Director and a GP in Bath.

“None of these decisions have been taken lightly, and throughout the process we have – and continue to – question the best way to commission services that are of the greatest benefit to the most patients.

“We have considered a long list of non-urgent services already, and earlier this year we took the decision to stop funding for gluten-free foods and over-the-counter medicines for short-term ailments for all but the most vulnerable patients. However, to fulfil our duty to live within the budget we’ve been given for B&NES, we now have to consider other ways we could save money and that includes looking at non-urgent services.”

The CCG is considering these three services in particular after looking at other CCGs in the country that have made savings by reducing access to non-urgent services that impact small numbers of individuals.

The consultation is open from 8 November to 27 December to allow as many people as possible to give their views on the proposals. The CCG is particularly interested in hearing from anyone who would be affected directly by the proposals, including health professionals, any suggestions people have about additional and/or alternative proposals to consider.

You can find out more information about these proposals in the Frequently Asked Questions, which you can access via the CCG website www.banesccg.nhs.uk.

To share your views on our proposals about fertility treatment, please complete the survey here.

To share your views on our proposals about vasectomy and female sterilisation services, please complete the survey here.

Alternatively, email banes.comms@nhs.net with your comments or call 01225 831 800 to ask for a copy of the surveys be sent to you.