To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services that presents information from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on proposals to explore and test the market for opportunities to grow and sustain the Leeds Fertility IVF service in light of a changing competitive market in Leeds.
The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report that presented information from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on proposals to explore and test the market for opportunities to grow and sustain the Leeds Fertility IVF service in light of a changing competitive market in Leeds.
The following were in attendance:
- James Goodyear, Director of Strategy, LTHT
- Dr Kelly Cohen, Clinical Director of Women’s Services, LTHT
- Claire Goodman, General Manager, Women’s Services, LTHT
The Clinical Director of Women’s Services introduced the report and highlighted the current success of the Leeds Fertility IVF Service. In particular, it was noted that the ‘take home baby rate’ is 44% in Leeds, compared to 27% nationally. Members were also advised that the team hold an international reputation for training and excellence which the Trust is keen to maintain. Driven by recent changes to the commercial landscape for IVF in Leeds, it was highlighted that the Trust is wanting to explore the potential benefits of a collaborative approach with commercial providers in terms of investment opportunities to expand and grow the service, as well as securing its sustainability. The Trust therefore intends to invite the market to tender for the contract to deliver the IVF component of the service while still working closely with the Trust to maintain the current level of excellence. As part of this proposal, Members were assured that services would be delivered by the same clinical professionals and remain at Seacroft Hospital – despite the change in provider. The General Manager of Women’s Services was then invited to give an overview of patient engagement work undertaken by the Trust. In acknowledging that patients have been generally happy with the current level of service received, it was noted that some potential service improvement areas had also been identified, which included simplifying the clinical pathway navigation routes; addressing waiting times; improved telephone access for information and advice; access to a patient supporting mobile application and greater personalisation of care. When asked specifically about the proposal to deliver the service through a commercial provider, it was reported that most were not against the proposal if it meant that the quality of care and expertise was to remain in place. Patients also emphasised the importance of ensuring that NHS and self-funding (private) patients are treated equally.
Members discussed a number of matters, including:
· Clarification of the specific IVF component to be procured. In response to a query, the Board was informed that the technical aspects of the IVF component would be procured but the broader gynaecological service and specialist fertility work would remain with the Trust.
· The developing competitor market. Members sought clarification on the current pressures on the service that have led the Trust to consider working with a commercial partner. Members were advised that the Trust intends to explore tendering options to give certainty to the viability of the service in the medium term, in order to maintain a service that is able to compete with other private providers that begin to offer alternative services in the city. It was also noted that the expectation would be for a private provider to pay the Trust to take on this work, which would offer some certainty over income and help mitigate the potential risk of patient activity levels reducing due to a changing commercial landscape.
· Impact on staff employment. Members sought clarification surrounding the impact on staff and learned that while a TUPE transfer would likely be applied to most of the affected staff, there are some staff that work across a broad range of fertility services whom may need to remain employed directly by the Trust.
· Patient pathway. Members were assured that thepatient pathway managed by a Consultant, along with the nurse-led aftercare process, will remain unchanged despite the changes to the provider. It was also noted that the quality of care delivered by any new commercial provider would be closely monitored by the Trust through a robust contract management process.
· Facilities for male fertility issues. In response to a query, Members were advised that there is an andrology service available for referrals in Leeds.
· Decision-making timeframe. Members were informed that the Trust had not made any firm decisions regarding the future of the IVF Fertility Service as it would need to evaluate the outcome of the forthcoming tendering exercise. It was noted that the Trust intends to publish the tender documentation over the coming weeks.
In conclusion, the Chair proposed that the Board maintains a watching brief on this matter. While noting that there are no further planned meetings of the Board until June, the Chair requested that the Trust provides a further written update in due course, which will also assist the Board in determining its next steps.
(a) That the contents of the report and appendices, along with Members comments, be noted.
(b) That the Board is kept informed of progress by the Trust and receives a further written update in due course.