100,000 sign pe­ti­tion to end fer­til­ity treat­ment ‘post­code lot­tery’ in NHS

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE -

CAM­PAIGN­ERS WILL present a pe­ti­tion with more than 100,000 sig­na­tures to Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May call­ing for an end to the “post­code lot­tery” of NHS fer­til­ity treat­ment.

The Fer­til­ity Net­work is urg­ing the Gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a fairer sys­tem so that cou­ples across the coun­try can get equal ac­cess to IVF on the health ser­vice.

It said that in­fer­til­ity dis­ease af­fects about one in six cou­ples in the UK, yet many NHS ser­vices ra­tion it un­fairly. The Fer­til­ity Net­work is pre­sent­ing its 102,000-strong #Scream4IVF pe­ti­tion to Mrs May at Down­ing Street to­day.

The char­ity and on­line mag­a­zine IVF Bab­ble launched the #Scream4IVF cam­paign, with part­ners Saatchi & Saatchi Well­ness ad­ver­tis­ing agency, in Septem­ber and within two months the on­line pe­ti­tion had gath­ered more than 100,000 sig­na­tures.

The Fer­til­ity Net­work’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Aileen Feeney, said this showed the pub­lic sup­port be­hind end­ing the post­code lot­tery.

She added: “Gath­er­ing 100,000 sig­na­tures, in such a short space of time, demon­strates the over­whelm­ing pub­lic sup­port to end the un­eth­i­cal and un­fair IVF post­code lot­tery and cre­ate an eq­ui­table sys­tem for ac­cess to NHS fer­til­ity ser­vices in the UK.

“These 100,000 sig­na­tures rep­re­sent the screams of pain

and frus­tra­tion from not be­ing able to have a child with­out med­i­cal help – and not hav­ing your screams heard.”

Pe­ti­tions which reach 100,000 sig­na­tures are con­sid­ered for a de­bate in Par­lia­ment.

The Na­tional In­sti­tute of Health and Care Ex­cel­lence (Nice) guid­ance rec­om­mends women un­der 40 should be of­fered three cy­cles of IVF and one cy­cle for some women aged 40-42.

But the Fer­til­ity Net­work said this is not manda­tory and only about 13 per cent of Eng­land’s 195 clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing groups(CCGs) of­fered the three NHS-funded cy­cles.

It said nine out of 10 CCGs in Eng­land do not al­low cou­ples to ac­cess NHS IVF if one per­son has a child from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship while oth­ers set their own age lim­its, in­clud­ing men hav­ing to be un­der 55 or women older than 25.

The #Scream4IVF cam­paign has gath­ered cross-party sup­port from politi­cians, in­clud­ing Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Sir Vince Ca­ble and Labour’s Steve McCabe.

The Birm­ing­ham Selly Oak MP, whose Ac­cess to Fer­til­ity Ser­vices pri­vate mem­bers’ bill will have its sec­ond read­ing at West­min­ster later this month, said he was thrilled the pe­ti­tion had re­ceived so much sup­port.

A Depart­ment of Health and So­cial Care spokesman said birth rates from IVF treat­ment in the UK have in­creased by more than 85 per cent since 1991. He added: “All de­ci­sions on IVF treat­ment should be made by doc­tors based on a pa­tient’s in­di­vid­ual clin­i­cal needs and in line with Nice guide­lines.

“While pro­vi­sion of NHS in­fer­til­ity treat­ment is de­cided by lo­cal clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing groups, we are clear that blan­ket re­stric­tions on treat­ment are un­ac­cept­able.”

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