A fashion designer has been left distraught after she was turned down for IVF funding because her partner already has a son from a previous relationship.
Susi Henson, 33, is unable to conceive naturally as she suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes cysts to form on her ovaries. She and her partner Jay Nightingale visited their GP and were referred for treatment.
But after a six-month wait, the couple were told by health bosses their funding request had been turned down because Mr Nightingale, 40, has a 20-year-old son whom Ms Henson has never met. This means they will have to find £7,500 to pay for the treatment privately.
Health guidance organisation the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends all couples with fertility problems aged between 23 and 39 should be allowed three courses of IVF paid for by the NHS. However, NHS Nottinghamshire County stipulates that couples who have a child from a previous relationship are not eligible.
Miss Henson, from Nottingham, said today: 'How can we not be classed as a childless couple? Jay's son lives in Wales, and I've never met him. 'It is a totally unfair system. If I lived in another part of the country I would be able to get funding.
'But the health authorities here won't allow for it. I believe it is totally wrong. It's discriminatory, a complete postcode lottery.' Miss Henson, who owns a corset-making firm, is now calling for the treatment to be made available for all infertile couples. She said: 'I'm sure I'm not the only one out there having these issues. I'm doing this not just for ourselves but for everyone else out there, men and women.
'The condition I have is a disease so treatment should be covered. 'My partner and I are both self-employed and are having to save a lot of cash to be able to think about paying for treatment. 'There must be many out there who cannot afford it. It isn't right.'
Miss Henson has been told that, before any IVF treatment, she will need a year-long course of the drug colmid. Treatment including IVF and the drug would cost £7,500.
She now has the backing of her local MP, Vernon Coaker, who has said he will raise the matter during Prime Minister's Questions. He added: 'The guidelines that are being used are very restrictive. It is something that needs reviewing.' The NICE guidelines do not have to be followed by local health authorities.
NHS Nottinghamshire County is following guidelines set by the East Midlands Specialised Commissioning Group, which works with health authorities in the region. Sharon Beamish, director of East Midlands Commissioning Group, said: 'Although the East Midlands Specialised Commissioning Group cannot comment on individual cases, we do recognise the difficult personal circumstances that some couples and individuals face.
'Our policy for IVF treatment covers the population of all nine PCT areas in the East Midlands. It is based on fair and specific criteria which ensure equitable access to IVF services across the East Midlands for thousands of people.'
Article: 8th July 2010 www.dailymail.co.uk
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