Dealing with infertility is hard enough, but learning you aren’t entitled to any rounds of IVF on the NHS increases the stress, the heartache and the anxiety.
The postcode lottery (not the sort where Jeff Brazier is going to come knocking on your door!) is something we were not aware of as we went in to our first appointment at Peterborough Hospital to discuss why we weren’t getting pregnant. We presumed that we would be entitled to at least one round of IVF on the NHS and always referred to that as a bit of a dummy run; a rehearsal if you will. But no, there was no rehearsal.
We had various investigations through the NHS which we are incredibly grateful for and nothing will change that. We know we are lucky to have had some support but it just stopped all of a sudden. It literally came to a point where we were sat in an appointment in the hospital and were told ‘we have done everything we can for you, if you want to pursue IVF you will need to make you own arrangements to move forward.’
That was pretty frightening.
In 2019, the idea of bringing a cycle of IVF back for women under the age of 40 in Peterborough floated around. The CCG were due to review their decision and potentially reinstate NHS funded IVF. We waited to make a decision as to whether we would pursue private treatment in the sheer hope that the decision to offer nothing would be overturned. The original decision to take NHS IVF away from patients in Cambridgeshire was made in September 2017. Fast forward to August 2019 when the final decision was made, the CCG reviewed the decision and it was sadly sticking to its guns… nothing.
I can’t even begin to tell you how we felt that day. We read the article on the local newspapers twitter feed. I was at work and sent it to my husband. I was obviously inconsolable and my manager sent me home. My husband was on a train going in to London to work. He got to Kings Cross, called his manager to explain the situation and got the next train home – we just wanted to be together. He got home, we got in the car and drove to the seaside. We sat on the beach crying.
We had 2 options; stump up the money and pursue private treatment, knowing full well this would cost thousands, thousands we just don’t have, or, we keep trying naturally. Our diagnosis is unexplained infertility, meaning nobody knows why it’s not happening for us.
We felt we had no real option but to go ahead with a private round of IVF.
Suddenly the anxiety went through the roof. It’s not just dealing with the fact that we can’t get pregnant. It all comes down to money. Can we afford to have IVF? We have been incredibly lucky and have been able to ask for contributions from both sides of our families. If we weren’t in this position then the outcome is simple, we would not be able to afford IVF. Everything becomes money related. You don’t want to spend any money on yourself because ‘that’s IVF money.’ If you don’t save enough for IVF then ‘clearly you don’t want it enough.’ It honestly makes you question everything. We’ve put so much on hold; we’ve basically pressed pause on our lives. We feel guilty for every penny we spend; that’s no exaggeration.
There are people in this area, and in other areas where there is no access to NHS IVF that don’t have the option to ask for money, or pay for IVF themselves. Is it really fair that they should be totally shut out of their chance to have a child of their own? Of course it’s not fair, it’s disgusting. The disparity across the country is shocking. If we lived 4 miles north we would be able to have a round on the NHS.
Some CCG’s offer three rounds of IVF. I can’t even imagine the amount of relief that we would feel if it was the case here!
It is horrific to think that couples across the region have been priced out of attempting to have their own child. Of course just because you are going through IVF doesn’t mean it’s going to work, oh no… and we’ve found that out the hard way; 3 rounds in and 13k down. It’s all risk, it’s a gamble and in a lot of cases it doesn’t pay off.
Heartache, stress, anxiety. These feelings never go away. They just change shape, one minute they are reflective of your infertility, the next minute it’s reflective of not being able to afford IVF.
Things need to change for couples across this region. Having your own child simply cannot become elitist for those who are infertile through no fault of their own. Because that’s exactly what it’s become. If you can afford it, go ahead. If you can’t, well, that’s it. It’s over.
Sign the #FightForIVF petition here: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/259/042/845/demand-an-end-to-the-ivf-postcode-lottery/