COUPLES in York will not be able to get IVF treatment on the NHS this year, after health bosses today backtracked on a decision earlier this summer.
The Vale of York CCG's governing body yesterday met and, on a 5-4 vote, delayed offering a single cycle of IVF because it cannot afford the service.
Dr Tim Hughes from the CCG said: "It is with a heavy heart that I announce the CCG’s Governing Body has voted to temporarily defer the commissioning of IVF services in the Vale of York for 2014-15.
“The lengthy discussion today highlighted the huge financial pressures the CCG endures whilst meeting its duty to commission safe and effective health and care services."
He said the governing body passed a motion "to aspire to commission IVF in the future".
York is the only place in the UK not to offer at least one cycle of IVF to couples who cannot conceive naturally, but with an estimated 110 couples wanting IVF, Dr Hughes said the service could cost as much as £2 million a year in York, equating to two hospital wards, 43 full time nurses, nearly 300 hip replacement operations or 21,500 trips to A&E.
York IVF campaigner Karen Boardman said she was shocked and devastated.
She said: "I thought it was supposed to be a national health service. I could understand the financial argument, but places like Leeds and Hull will happily fund IVF."
Karen, 34, has struggled to conceive naturally since marrying her husband Pete three years ago. The couple have saved carefully and recently decided to pay for a cycle of IVF themselves, but with low success rates they hoped NHS treatment would give them a second chance.
She said: "I can't believe they can give us so much hope and then take it away."
For many women now at the upper end of the age limit for IVF treatment the delay will mean they are never eligible for NHS treatment.
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he was extremely disappointed with the decision, which comes less than two months after June's announcement the CCG had agreed a criteria for treatment.
He said: "There's no doubt in my mind that Vale of York CCG is backtracking. This means York will be the only area not to offer at least one cycle of IVF, and this leaves my constituents once again at a disadvantage compared to people in neighbouring areas like Harrogate, Scarborough and Ryedale."
The CCG's governing body voted to look again at the issues later this financial year.