IVF baby hopes dashed by cuts

Cuts by NHS Haringey will mean couples on one side of the road in places like Highgate will receive no chance to conceive a child, while their neighbours get two

DRASTIC health cuts to claw back a �33million overspend could spell a complete end to IVF in Haringey, closures of stroke and trauma centres and the slashing of vital procedures.

NHS Haringey says it needs to reduce its overspend by �8million by March 2011 and has drafted a list of more than 20 schemes which could be cut or totally axed, to save about �2million. But this could also create a postcode lottery for residents.

Plans include stopping all IVF, reducing Caesareans by five per cent, slashing mental health funding, closing elderly people’s services, such as the stroke club, and axing all homeopathy services.

The document also suggests not reinstating the walk-in centre suspended at Hornsey Health Centre, leaving out-of-hours care in the hands of private contractors and closing the Greentrees ward at St Ann’s Hospital.

More than 20 treatment options could also be added to the “non-priority procedures” list meaning they would only be undertaken in extreme circumstances. This includes cataract surgery.

The announcement comes as 3,000 NHS workers across London discovered they are to lose their jobs by April 2011.

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Unison London’s head of health Chris Remington says staff have been told they will be put on 90-day statutory consultation on redundancy – meaning many workers could receive redundancy notices on Christmas Eve.

NHS Haringey board members were due to decide yesterday whether to implement all or some of the proposed cuts.

Jacki Davenport conceived her 13-month-old daughter Genevieve after receiving the one course of IVF treatment currently allowed by NHS Haringey.

NICE guidelines recommend that women are allowed three courses of IVF. Those just miles away in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and various boroughs receive the full three. Those in Camden and Islington get two.

Now Haringey women are set to be told they will have no chance of conceiving a child via IVF.

She said: “I think it’s appalling. Ultimately they are deciding who gets to have a child and ultimately it’s the rich people who can afford private healthcare.

“We know across all postcodes there are inequalities for cancer drugs and all sorts of really important procedures. But if you have a problem conceiving, it’s just as emotionally distressing not to be able to have a family.

“I’m incredibly grateful I’ve got a daughter because we were lucky to get that one chance. If I never had that chance I would always wonder what if?”

Haringey would be one of only eight health trusts of 152 nationwide not to offer IVF.

Haringey Local Involvement Network (LINk) chairwoman Helena Kania said all the cuts would increase health inequalities.

“Many of these proposals will hit the people who are already at the worst end of health inequalities,” she said.

Other methods of saving money, such as discharging people quicker, would be utilised to make up the other �6million needed by April. This could result in Haringey Council being left to care for people leaving hospital too early.

A NHS Haringey spokesman said: “All parts of the NHS, including NHS Haringey, have been told by the government to make efficiency savings.

“Although these changes are needed to help us reduce our costs and balance our budget, we will, of course, look carefully at any potential impact on clinical services and patient outcomes.

“NHS Haringey will carry out the appropriate discussions with key groups before any final decisions are taken.”

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