IVF babble talks to Fertility Network UK CEO Susan Seenan

Fertility Network UK is the UK’s leading patient focused fertility charity and provides an invaluable service, offering advice and support to those facing fertility issues.

The charity’s Chief Executive, Susan Seenan, has travelled her own path through IVF and it is that experience that motivated her to work for this worthwhile charity.

With one in six couples now facing infertility issues in the UK alone, the charity’s work is now needed more than ever before.

Susan chatted with IVF babble about the charity’s vital work, it’s hope for the future of fertility treatment and upcoming campaigns.

Fertility Network UK was set up in 2003 and since then has been offering support and guidance to anyone who is experiencing fertility issues.

Susan came joined the charity in 2005 as a communications officer, she became deputy chief executive in 2011 and took over the reins as chief executive in 2014. She is also the co-chair of Fertility Fairness, a charity that lobbies for the right for fertility treatment, wherever a person lives in the UK.

It is clear when chatting to her that she is passionate about her role and the charity’s work.

She believes there should be more support systems in place and revealed that the charity, in partnership with Middlesex University, had conducted a study concluding that a staggering 75 per cent of people said they wanted more support. The study also revealed that people were not aware of the existing support systems that were available to them, whether online or face-to-face.

Susan said: “We need to be so much more aware of the need for support as an ongoing issue.”

She feels passionately that men need to be included and acknowledged more when going through such an emotional journey as fertility treatment.

She said: “Men are not acknowledged enough and I know this is partly because they don’t want to talk about it but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a very real need to talk about it.”

Another area that she feels needs more attention is a lack of follow-up support after unsuccessful treatment.

Interestingly, the charity ran a project a few years ago in which they sent out option packs to clinics in England – free of charge – to give to couples before their treatment commenced so patients had something to hand if the cycle turned out to be unsuccessful.

But shockingly, many of the clinics returned the packs to the charity. In contrast, the same project in Scotland had a very high uptake of clinics giving the packs to their patients.

The charity is a vocal campaigner on the unfairness of the current ‘postcode lottery’ and the fact that the same standard number of cycles is not offered across the whole country. Susan is passionate that this system needs to change.

She said simply: “It’s appalling, it’s cruel and it’s unethical.”

Susan said the charity will continue to lobby politicians for change to this unjust system, particularly in light of several CCGs withdrawing funding for IVF treatment due to budget cuts.

One of the charity’s most successful campaigns to date has been the recent #HiddenFaces campaign, which included beautifully filmed personal accounts of a variety of different people who have been through fertility issues.

The campaign was hugely emotive and hard-hitting, with many stories making national headlines in print and television during National Fertility Awareness Week.

A campaign for the New Year will see the charity highlight the issue of childlessness, something that IVF babble will also be investigating in 2017.

She said: “It’s so good to know that others are acknowledging that there is a very real need for support in this area.”

Susan Seenan and The Fertility Network are an amazing force for change in the highly emotional world of fertility issues and will continue to work tirelessly for fairness, justice and support for all those on the rollercoaster journey to fulfil their dream of becoming parents.

We fully support the work of the charity and will continue to cover issues, campaigns and stories from Fertility Network UK in the coming years.

Article author: Moira Smith

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