IVF treatment: Thousands sign petition to end 'so unfair' postcode lottery

October 30, 2020

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for "an end to the IVF postcode lottery". 

The "Fight for IVF" campaign was started by blogger Amber Izzo who has been documenting her treatment journey.

Mrs Izzo, 25, from Peterborough, suffers from polycystic ovaries and blocked fallopian tubes. She and her husband have been trying for a baby for five years.

But there's no funding for IVF where she lives. When she completes her third round of treatment it will have cost her £20,000.

"It's really hard because knowing that 10 minutes away I'd be entitled to it it's just so unfair, and I think there's no rationale for why that is and it does completely add another stress to the situation," Amber told Sky News.

"And I think infertility impacts your mental health no end, it really does, and the financial stress on top of that just makes everything even harder.

"It makes you feel like you're not worth the same as everybody else, why is everybody else entitled to it and we're not?"

Infertility is a problem for one in six couples in the UK. Where you live in England can be the difference between three, two, one or no funded cycles of treatment.

Speaking on the eve of Fertility Week, Kate Brian from Fertility Network UK said: "I think we understand that it's a really difficult time at the moment for the NHS.

"Things have been very tough because of COVID, but what we also need to remember is that infertility is a medical condition.

"It's no different when your sperm or your ovaries don't work to any other part of your body not working."

National guidelines recommend three rounds of IVF for women under 40, but it's up to local healthcare commissioners to decide on budgets allocated by parliament.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "The health secretary has been clear that not offering any routine IVF service is completely unacceptable.

"There should be equal access across England, and that clinical commissioning groups should commission fertility services in line with NICE fertility guidelines."

In Solihull, Rachel Dawson's first round of IVF was funded by the NHS, but subsequent attempts cost her £6,500.

"You think so many people can have their babies for free and we were having to go through not only the financial burden but also the emotional and physical trauma of trying to get pregnant, it was really hard," said Rachel.

"Knowing that you're looking down years of debt just to have your baby, I say 'just to have your baby' but actually, when it's a lifelong dream, you'll do anything.

"We had a conversation and said we will do anything, but it's a scary thought to have to find that kind of money when we'd just bought a new house, like a family home. We have got good jobs but it's a lot of money to find."

Rachel is now 18 weeks pregnant and expecting a baby girl after her third round of treatment.

"We feel incredibly lucky. To think that there are some people out there who can't even have a single round is heartbreaking," she said.

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