FUNDED IVF cycles could be cut or even axed in Bury as part of a bid by health bosses to avoid a multi-million pound deficit at the end of the year.

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is being forced to find savings to avoid an end of year deficit, which could see the secretary of state become involved.

Cutting the IVF options was projected to save the CCG around £300,000.

The CCG was asked to consider how it would consult or engage with the public on the issue and talked about the possibility of offering no cycles.

At a CCG board meeting this week, Dr Cathy Fines, clinical director, said: "The legal advice is that we do need to go out to the public with the question around the options of moving from three to one or a range of options including going to zero or keeping at three."

Currently Bury CCG is one of just four in the country which offers the gold standard in terms of IVF. Its services are fully compliant with national guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which issues cost-based guidance.

Eligible couples in the borough are able to take advantage of three full cycles of in vitro fertilisation for women aged between 23 and 42.

The majority, 61 per cent, of CCGs in the country offer just one cycle to couples trying to conceive.

The quality of the IVF offering in Bury helped a couple from Newbury, Berkshire decide to relocate to the town in their bid to have children.

Craig and Anne-Marie Minter travelled from Berkshire to the CCG meeting for the day to hear what was said. They are concerned the offering could be reduced and they could be stuck looking for another borough to live in, because of the IVF postcode lottery.

Earlier in the year the board had hoped to take advantage of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) guidance on IVF but Dr Fines said this was not going to be forthcoming any time soon.

Stuart North, chief officer for the CCG said that should guidance emerge the CCG should pause its work in order to follow the lead of the GMHSCP.

Mike Woodhead the CCG's interim chief finance officer said: "We need to make sure our public engagement is set in the context of the financial position we are in and that we are obligated to break even and we have to find savings."

Members of the governing body had been asked to look for a preferred option but were hesitant to put one forward until further work with the public had been carried out.

A cycle in Bury is defined as one episode of ovarian stimulation and the implantation of all resultant fresh and frozen embryo(s) or a successful live birth.

The governing body was aware of the sensitivity of the subject of IVF and David McCann, who leads the patient cabinet said: "I think we should listen to people. At patient cabinet there were comments that affected me. With what my view was, when you hear people's experiences it opened my mind as to what was appropriate.