I am a fertility nurse writing to you with grave concerns about the future of fertility services in my area.
I am aware that the new NHS commissioning arrangements will soon begin to take shape.
As you know, there currently exists a post-code lottery for couples seeking In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment on the NHS. This is despite guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) calling on all Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to provide 3 full cycles of IVF to eligible couples. However, some PCTs continue to impose strict eligibility criteria, such as age and weight restrictions, which further limit patient access. As a fertility nurse, I strongly believe national commissioning is the way forward, as local level commissioning of fertility services only serves to widen the current post-code lottery, further entrenching inequalities in the health service.
As someone who works in a fertility clinic, I see firsthand the effects such policies have on childless couples, depriving some of their last chance to conceive. In addition to the lack of equity and the inconsistency of access across the country, the emotional burden of infertility is heavy enough as it is without the added uncertainty of securing funding.
Ultimately, infertility is a medical condition and patients with this condition deserve access to the equitable treatment. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley has acknowledged this, and was quoted as saying that the NHS has a responsibility to provide fertility services. Furthermore the Prime Minister has called on PCTs to adhere to the NICE guideline and provide 3 full cycles of IVF. I believe that national commissioning is the preferred way forward and the best option to ensure equity and fairness.
Given the importance of what is at stake, I would be most grateful if you could raise this issue in Parliament, either through parliamentary questions or by writing to the Secretary of State for Health.
Thank you for taking the time to read through my concerns. I very much look forward to your reply.