Two thirds of women would consider moving house to access IVF on the NHS, according to research.
Many have suffered fertility problems or know someone who has, while others have experienced depression and financial issues as a result of infertility, it found. While Scottish care trusts fund three fertility cycles, English PCTs decide on case-by-case bases about supporting treatments, leaving many patients struggling to access the IVF they need to conceive.
Clare Lewis-Jones, from the Infertility Network support network, said that for many couples ‘NHS is simply not an option purely because of their postcode.
‘This is a totally cruel, unjustifiable and unacceptable situation which simply must end, and end quickly before it is too late for those affected and they face a life without children which for many is too awful to contemplate,’ she added. A survey by She magazine of 1,000 readers found some 80 per cent knew of at least one couple who had had problems conceiving, while one in four had visited their GP to discuss fertility concerns.
A fifth had experienced financial difficulties through needing treatment, or knew someone who had, while more than one in three had suffered depression as a result of problems conceiving.
A similar number said infertility had caused a strain on their relationship with their partner, or they had witnessed friends experiencing issues while trying to conceive.
In 2004, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) said the NHS should fund three free cycles of IVF for women aged 23 to 39. A Department of Health survey from 2009 showed 30 per cent of health trusts offered three cycles, 23 per cent two cycles and 47 per cent one cycle.
Battle for treatment: Many couples struggle to gain access to IVF on the basis of which PCT caters for their area However, since then there have been widespread reports of trusts slashing funding for IVF, with more cuts expected this year.
A survey by Pulse magazine last year found one in five of all primary care trusts (PCTs) had cut funding for IVF in the previous three years and eight PCTs had not funded any IVF treatment for two years.
She magazine has launched a 'Fairtility' campaign and is encouraging women to sign an online petition.
Editor Claire Irvin said: 'Whenever we run a story in She magazine about infertility or IVF, we are overwhelmed by the candid and emotional letters and emails we receive from desperate couples who are reluctant to speak out about their treatment as infertility is such a private subject.
'It is something that affects tens of thousands of women across the UK - including members of our own team and should be given the priority it deserves.'
In January, David Flory, deputy NHS chief executive, wrote to PCTs reminding them they should have regard to the Nice guidelines. Nice is currently reviewing them but will not publish its findings until 2012.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: 'The local NHS decides on the funding of fertility treatments such as IVF. 'They make these decisions based on the health priorities of their local population. 'Current Nice guidelines recommend that the NHS provides up to three cycles of IVF for eligible couples. 'Our recent letter to the NHS reinforces how important it is for PCTs to take account of these guidelines.'
Article: 14th March 2010 www.dailymail.co.uk
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