Scores of people took to the streets of London to support a Fertility Network UK rally against cuts to NHS IVF funding by Clinical Commissioning Groups
The #Scream4IVF campaign has been running since early September and a joint petition with IVF babble has reached nearly 85,000 signatures.
Speakers at the event, which was held at Richmond Terrace, in Westminster, included Labour MPs Paula Sheriff and Steve McCabe, along with fertility author Jessica Hepburn and Damian Syzer, who have both experienced fertility issues with their respective partners.
The aim of the campaign is to stop what has been dubbed the IVF postcode lottery, in which CCGs are reducing and withdrawing the recommended National Institute for Clinical Excellence(NICE) guidelines of three full cycles of IVF for all those eligible.
Cuts to NHS funding continue
Currently, only three CCGs follow the recommendations, with many couples struggling to access funding, the latest NHS trust to reduce its provision being Bury, in Lancashire, which cut its funding from three cycles to just one.
Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, Steve McCabe has long been campaigning for IVF to be distributed fairly across the UK and has submitted a private members bill, which will have its second reading on November 23.
At a speech at the rally, he first congratulated Fertility Network UK on all their hard work so far
He said: “It’s very easy to bracket IVF and push it to one side, and forget that behind each IVF story there is a personal story that needs to be told and listened to.
“In the last five years we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the availability of IVF, something like 175 CCGs across the country are not complying at all with the NICE guidelines.
“It affects about 11 million people, if there was that number of people turned away for treatment for cancer or diabetes, what sort of scream do you think we would be hearing then? What sort of outrage do you think would be provoked?
“What I am trying to pursue with this bill is full compliance with the NICE guidance and an end to regional variations. We need a national benchmark price for IVF so that we get rid of the variation in cost and we need it now. And of course we need the same entitlement to treatment for any other illness on the NHS.
“We are going to keep on screaming until government ministers and health bureaucrats take notice to what is being said. Fertility treatment should be based on need and nothing else, not on your postcode, not on your pay packet and that is what we are going to work towards.”
Fertility Network UK’s chief executive, Aileen Feeney, said: “Fertility Network’s #Scream4IVF rally at Westminster on October 10 was an enormous success. We want to say a massive thank you to all those who came along – patients, politicians, IVF children and the fertility community – to share their screams for IVF and rattle the walls of Westminster. Your screams were deafening and are being heard. Because of you the issue of fair access to NHS IVF is in the spotlight.”
“Fertility Network also wants to thank everyone who has shared their #Scream4IVF on social media and signed our online petition for fair access to NHS IVF; we now have approaching 85,000 signatures. We are so close to 100,000 and getting a debate at Westminster on the issue. Let’s get to 100,000 signatures by Fertility Week October 29 and November 4.”
To sign the petition, click here