‘One shot’ at IVF angers pa­tients

Hilling­don only al­low­ing one cy­cle of treat­ment in­stead of rec­om­mended three

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

IVF pa­tients in Hilling­don are suf­fer­ing the strain of a ‘post­code lot­tery’, by only be­ing al­lowed one treat­ment cy­cle on the NHS, com­pared to three cy­cles on of­fer just a few miles away.

Three cy­cles of IVF are rec­om­mended by the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Health and Care Ex­cel­lence (NICE) for women younger than 40 who meet the cri­te­ria, but it is lo­cal clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing groups (CCGs) who have the fi­nal say on fund­ing.

Hilling­don is one of eight CCGs which only al­lows one cy­cle of IVF treat­ment, whereas over the bor­der in Buck­ing­hamshire woman can ap­ply for the NICE rec­om­men­da­tion of three.

A 30-year-old Hilling­don woman, who did not want to named, told the Gazette about the stress of be­ing al­lowed only one cy­cle.

She said: “In all hon­esty, it’s prob­a­bly the worst thing you can do to some­body in my po­si­tion.

“You have so much pres­sure on you to have chil­dren any­way, and then when you re­alise and fully come to terms with the fact that you can’t have chil­dren nat­u­rally, that in it­self is a hur­dle. It’s an ad­di­tional emo­tional pres­sure.

“I’m at the age and stage where a lot of my friends are hav­ing chil­dren, if not their se­cond child, and they’re all talk­ing about the joys of fall­ing preg­nant and I’m hav­ing to fight tooth and nail to ac­tu­ally get preg­nant.

“You only get one shot. It puts pres­sure on you to keep stress lev­els to a min­i­mum and with the best will in the world you can’t con­trol all of your ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences.

“You end up in this sce­nario where you’re con­stantly over-analysing ev­ery sin­gle thing you do be­cause you need it to be per­fect as you’ve only got one go.”

The IVF pa­tient ex­plained that the post­code lot­tery is not just about the amount of cy­cles given, but also the level of care re­ceived.

She added: “Liv­ing within the Lon­don bor­ough of Hilling­don, I wasn’t en­ti­tled to an AMH blood test and you can’t pro­ceed with IVF with­out know­ing that re­sult, be­cause that gives you an in­di­ca­tion of the egg re­serves a woman will have.”

Gra­ham Hawkes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Healthwatch Hilling­don, a health and so­cial care watch­dog, said the CCG’s ‘one cy­cle’ pol­icy could be viewed as ‘in­sti­tu­tion­alised dis­crim­i­na­tion’ and should be ad­dressed.

He said: “This is not a life­style choice, nor an easy op­tion for women, but changes to our so­ci­ety and de­mands made on women make start­ing a fam­ily dif­fi­cult enough with­out fac­ing a post­code lot­tery in ac­cess to IVF.

“Women across northwest Lon­don are fac­ing an up­hill strug­gle to ac­cess fer­til­ity treat­ment that has been rec­om­mended by NICE as been both clin­i­cally ef­fec­tive ef­fec­tive.”

Hilling­don CCG said it had to de­cide how best to meet the de­mand for lo­cal health­care, us­ing clin­i­cal judge­ments and tak­ing into ac­count ‘wider fi­nan­cial and com­mis­sion­ing is­sues’.

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n TREAT­MENT: Hilling­don women are fac­ing an ‘up­hill strug­gle’

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