A woman with unexplained infertility has launched a campaign to get the IVF postcode lottery scrapped in the UK after being denied access to the recommended three full NHS cycles
Emily Scott and her husband, Ben, have been trying to conceive for three years and only realised there was an issue when they went to their GP in 2017 when she was given the suspected diagnosis.
The 32-year-old was told that because of Emily’s condition their best chance of overall success was three NHS IVF cycles that they could access locally. The couple were subsequently referred for treatment with Oxford Fertility Clinic.
But the couple were not informed that the region they lived in only offered one full NHS cycle and they would have to pay for any further treatment cycles.
Their first round failed and despite the total devastation, the couple decided to start a second round. But just two weeks later they were shocked to receive a bill for £1,995 to cover the first part of their second round of treatment.
Emily said: “We were devastated and couldn’t afford to pay at that point, so had to cancel our treatment mid-cycle. This took a long time for us to process and significantly impacted my mental health.”
Emily decided to find out as much as she could about the reasons behind the lack of cycles available and was shocked and devastated at what she she discovered.
She said: “Infertility is a disease with profound effects on individuals and on families, and Ben and I are very much feeling the impact of this at the moment. If this flouting of regulatory guidance and rationing of treatment had happened with any other aspect of healthcare – for example, if we started rationing out treatment for heart disease in this way – this would rightly be declared a major healthcare scandal.
“The IVF postcode lottery is just another way that inequality is playing out in the UK, and to my mind evidences a patent disregard for the very real impacts of infertility on the people experiencing this.”
In March this year the couple began a second round as private patients but despite a positive pregnancy test, Emily miscarried at eight weeks.
“I experienced high-functioning depression for well over a year after my first round of IVF,” Emily said. “And several months on I am still recovering from the emotional impacts of the second round of treatment. Campaigning has really helped me to feel that I can regain some level of control over my personal experiences while hopefully benefiting other individuals and couples across the country.”
The campaign, which has the backing on local MP Layla Moran and Fertility Network UK, calls for parity of IVF treatment on the NHS for the sake of equality and fairness.
Emily said: “It’s just outrageous that there is such disparity across the country and that this is causing real heartache for people; it truly makes you wonder what happened to the ‘National’ in the ‘National Health Service’ when a disease like infertility an be treated so radically differently across the country.
“It’s also devastating that the mental health impacts of this are also being down-played or totally overlooked by the people and CCGs who are making decisions about provision at a high level; I am very keen to remind policy makers of the human impact of the decisions they make. The petition asks parliament to take action to ensure that this disparity of provision is brought to an end, and that CCGs are held to account and ideally required to implement treatment in accordance with NICE guidelines.”
The petition has so far gained more than 3,515 signatures and to add your support, click here