Couple call for an end to Oxfordshire’s IVF ‘postcode lottery’
A ‘POSTCODE lottery’ in IVF treatment has been accused of having a ‘devastating’ impact on couples struggling to have children in Oxfordshire.
Emily Scott and her husband Ben from Abingdon had been trying to get pregnant for three years when they realised something may be wrong and discussed options with their GP in 2017.
The 32-year-old was diagnosed with unexplained infertility and said she was told three rounds of IVF had the best chances of success and could be provided locally.
Unbeknown to the pair, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group currently offers just one cycle of IVF for all women under the age of 35, rather than the three for those under 40 recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
They were referred to Oxford Fertility Clinic for a first round of IVF, which ended in failure in Christmas 2017. Though devastated they decided to try again.
Mrs Scott, who works Oxford Brookes University on student outreach, said she was two weeks in to what should have been her next treatment cycle when the fertility clinic sent a letter ‘out of the blue’ requesting they transfer £1,995 as soon as possible for the treatment.
She said her husband, 33, who saw the letter first, described it as a ‘kick in the stomach’ as they did not have the money at short notice. She added: “I was devastated, and cried a lot over the next few weeks.
“We were left with no option but to cancel the treatment cycle half way through.”
The clinic waived their usual cancellation fee over the misunderstanding but the couple were left ‘stunned’ and ‘felt powerless’, with Mrs Scott eventually developing high-functioning depression.
She started her second round of treatment in March, this time paid for on a credit card, but at seven weeks had a miscarriage.
She said: “Ben and I are getting through it but we still feel bereft as we are grieving for what we have lost and struggling with the uncertainty of our family’s future. We often feel like we’ve put our lives on hold, and are now in the process of paying off our credit card and its legacy of hope and sadness.”
Inspired by her own experience she is now campaigning to change the ‘unethical and unfair’ IVF policy and would like to here from anyone interested in helping.
Contact Mrs Scott via The Oxford Mail.
In November, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran said she was disappointed that the Government had refused to make it mandatory for NHS trusts to offer the NICE recommendation after figures obtained by campaign group Fertility Fairness revealed of 195 CCGs in England, seven have stopped offering IVF on the NHS entirely.
The Oxfordshire CCG policy is shared across the Thames Valley area and a document from 2013 outlining the reasoning said the high cost of extending the service was behind the decision.