This Morning highlights the unfairness of the IVF ‘postcode lottery’

As you may have seen, last year we launched an online petition with the Fertility Network UK, to fight back against the current NHS IVF postcode lottery. The response was overwhelming, with tens of thousands of you signing the petition and backing the campaign.

We proudly delivered your signatures to 10 Downing Street and waited with bated breath to see what the Government would do next.

Sadly though, Brexit interrupted everything and we haven’t seen any change… yet.

However, our passion still remains and we won’t stop until we see a change in the mindset of the Government – we want them to be doing much more to force CCGs to do what has been recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which states in its guidelines that the NHS should offer women under the age of 40 three full cycles of IVF, if they have been trying for a child for more than two years.

We understand there are budget cuts within NHS and can see the need to make changes to accommodate this, but inflicting this much emotional strain on people who are at their most vulnerable and exposed is not right. This was highlighted last week on ITV’s This Morning show, when an 38 year old woman broke down in tears over the ‘unfair’ IVF postcode lottery imposed by the NHS

Steph and Tom (38 and 40) live in Buckinghamshire, where they have been turned down by local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) restrictions. Steph’s age, and the fact that Tom has children from a previous relationship, ruled them out of eligibility.

Steph became emotional as she recounted the fact that a woman older than her was able to get 3 rounds of IVF on the NHS simply because she lives in London. This is a prime example of the unjust  ‘postcode lottery’ that we have written about in the past.

Steph, who appeared on the programme with fertility expert Dr Larisa Corda, has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

One of her fallopian tubes has been removed, and the other is damaged. She and Tom suffered through a potentially dangerous ectopic pregnancy, and she knew that getting pregnant “was going to be an issue.”

‘As soon as I met Tom, I said straight away, “If we try and have children, I know it will be a long process, it will be hard.” However, she had no idea that her local CCG had such restrictive rules. They do not fund IVF for women over the age of 35, nor for couples in  which one partner already has a child or children.

Steph elaborated. “It’s very unfair. I have a friend who had treatment in East London who was in a similar situation to me, older children, her other half already had children and she was entitled to three rounds.”

This Morning host Phillip Schofield asked the couple if they had thought about moving to a different borough. Steph answered, “Do you put your life on hold to try and have children? We both work out west, Tom’s children are out west, you can’t make that drastic change to have a baby. It will be the most expensive thing you’ll have in your life. You can’t ruin your living situation prior to that. It doesn’t make sense.”

Dr Corda then shared her expertise, explaining more about the rules and regulations surrounding fertility treatments. She suggested that problems having a baby naturally should be treated as seriously as dealing with a disease. This hit a nerve for Steph, who replied, “There are a lot of women out there who are settling down later in life and so to have this age cut off is ridiculous.”

Dr Corda also mentioned that there are some great resources, such as IVFbabble, Fertility Network and IVF Fairness, that are there to support women, and also to campaign against this injustice.

Our petition is now closed, but this doesn’t mean we have given up. We are still working alongside Fertility Network UK and IVF Fairness to ensure that the Government address this issue,

Have you been a victim of the ‘postcode lottery’? If you have, do get in touch. We would love to hear from you at mystory@ivfbabble.com or on social media @ivfbabble

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