‘One shot’ at IVF angers patients
Hillingdon only allowing one cycle of treatment instead of recommended three
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’.
n TREATMENT: Hillingdon women are facing an ‘uphill struggle’