Free IVF treatment on the NHS in Cambridgeshire has been scrapped – despite 82 per cent of survey respondents disagreeing with the move and thousands signing a petition opposing it.
Instead of getting the first cycle of IVF free through the NHS, hopeful parents will have to pay for each cycle, according to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The CCG decided to cut funding for specialist fertility treatment to save 700,000, helping ease its current financial concerns.
Cambridgeshire is now one of only five regions not to offer any NHS-funded speciality fertility treatment.
Infertility, which is categorised as a disease by the World Health Organisation, affects one in six people.
Berenice Smith, who underwent six unsuccessful IVF treatments, said it was incredibly disappointing that affordable fertility treatment came down to a ‘postcode lottery’.
She said: “It is incredibly sad, incredibly sad that people [who want to conceive] have to make these appalling choices.”
A previous online survey found that 82 per cent of people did not agree with the plans to cut funding.
A 2,278 signature petition opposing the proposals was also submitted by Stuart Tuckwood, a representative of UNISON Acute Hospitals.
Ms Smith said the overwhelming public support to keep the fertility treatment funding made the decision undemocratic.
She said: “It is not really very democratic in my opinion. No one should have to pay to have a child if they cant because at the end of the day infertility is an illness. Its not self-inflicted.”
Ms Smith added that fertility treatment should be part of the NHS care package that taxpayers already fund.
She said that most people she has come across trying to conceive are incredibly healthy people and no strain to the healthcare system.
“Everyone that Ive spoken to are healthier than most people because they have tried everything that they can to have a child.
“Certainly when I went through it youre not overweight, you dont drink and you dont smoke. You go through all of these hoops to try and do something everyone else can, and then youve got the added stress now to find the money to do something like that.”
NHS doctors will still provide IVF treatment in Cambridgeshire, but hopeful parents will have to pay for the treatment.
The CCG added that Cambridge IVF costs are less expensive than private clinics and all of the profits are put back into the NHS.
Stephen Harbottle, service lead and consultant embryologist at Cambridge IVF – which currently provides NHS IVF treatment in the region – said that they are still “fully committed” to working with those wishing to have a child in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
He said: While we fully understand the very difficult financial position the CCG is in, we know the decision will be met with worry by our patients in the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire area.
Our assurance to them is that Cambridge IVF, as the assisted conception service provided by Addenbrookes and the Rosie, will continue to provide coordinated fertility treatment and a well-established and recognised patient pathway.”
Cambridge IVF staff have invited anyone with questions about IVF to drop into the clinic at Kefford House, Maris Lane, Trumpington, Cambridge, between 6pm and 8pm on Tuesday, September 12, 19 or 26. No appointment is necessary.
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