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Government debate soon on fertility treatment funding

(12 Posts)
NastyWoman Thu 12-Jan-17 22:48:06

Hi everyone. I wanted to let you know that on the 19th January there will be a Commons debate on decommissioning NHS funding for fertility treatment. See the Facebook link below.

I've emailed my MP to ask if he will be attending and made some points about the current patchwork of provision. I thought some of you might like to do the same.

https://m.facebook.com/events/704170653091145?acontext=%7B"ref"%3A"3"%2C"action_history"%3A"null"%7D&aref=3

SicknessStillness Fri 13-Jan-17 05:22:21

Does this mean they're considering withdrawing NHS treatment? sad

Sixisthemagicnumber Fri 13-Jan-17 05:26:56

I was listening to a news item yesterday which said NHS funding for lots of things is likely to be cut and waiting times will get longer unless we increase NHS funding. There was a you gov poll asking if people would be prepared to pay more income tax to fu d the NHS and only 42% would. My first thought was that fertility treatments would be cut.

AyeAmarok Fri 13-Jan-17 05:54:34

Oh no, that's awful.

And it's not like there is good mental health provisions to deal with the effects this will have on people suffering infertility.

They should offer it at cost rather than cut it completely.

Sixisthemagicnumber Fri 13-Jan-17 06:49:39

I don't think the NHS is set up to offer treatments at cost is it? I always thought not was either NHS treatment or private treatment. I suppose they could work it like dental treatments where you pay a set amount for each band of treatment required. I know treatments for other conditions have already been cut in many areas. I can see gluten free foods for Coeliacs going as well as there is so much available to buy in the shops now. I buy free from foods for my
Son who has life threatening wheat and dairy allergy as people with allergies can't get food on prescriptions and the range in the shops is quite good now (albeit expensive).

NastyWoman Fri 13-Jan-17 07:25:39

Sorry I should have been clearer... As far as I can tell it's not about making a choice to decommission it everywhere but a discussion about the way the current system works where provision is decided locally. More and more local areas are cutting cycles or ending all funding for treatment... If your local CCG hasn't done this yet there is a pretty good chance they have at least thought about it to help fill the gaps in their budget.

I have benefited from nhs funding, and even without it we could have afforded private ivf treatment which makes us very lucky. However i honestly believe that self funding would have put a tremendous strain on our marriage and even more pressure on me while I was having treatment. I think it would have broken us to be honest. I feel so sad at the thought of others facing similar difficulties.

tigerdog Fri 13-Jan-17 07:26:34

Thanks for flagging this. Fertility treatment funding is an easy target in times of austerity. It is already an appalling post code lottery, and of variable quality across the country. It makes me so cross that some women are (and many more may well be) denied treatment for their fertility problems, when it is a medical issue, with heartbreaking consequences.

Sixisthemagicnumber Fri 13-Jan-17 07:49:21

Out of curiosity, if there isn't enough money in the NHS pot and the govt won't provide more money where
Do you think the cuts should be made? What treatments do you think should go and which do you think should be ring fenced?

NastyWoman Fri 13-Jan-17 09:53:34

Good question Six. I personally think that breast cancer screening may well not justify the resources, and also the NHS health check programme (where you are invited for a basic 'MOT' every five years from 40) may not be effective either. Both of these programmes cost an awful lot of money. So if I had to choose I'd be looking at those. The problem is that IVF is funded by CCGs and breast screening is funded by Public Health England, and health checks by local councils. So they are different pots of money.

(I should say that it's not that I think that infertile women need help more than women with breast cancer, I definitely don't think that. I do think that breast cancer screening is not as amazing and effective at preventing deaths than many people believe.)

AyeAmarok Fri 13-Jan-17 10:04:36

I wonder if a better policy than cutting it completely would be that if you meet the criteria (similar to now, eh non-smoker, under 40, healthy weight etc) then you can have the treatment for free (say two cycles) and you pay if it works?

I hate how people have to fork out thousands and have it not work.

I know there'd be issues with what constitutes it having "worked" or not though.

Sixisthemagicnumber Fri 13-Jan-17 11:12:36

But what if it is successful and the person can't afford to pay the bill ayeamarok? I can imagine a lotmofmpeople
Would accept he treatment knowing that if it is successful they have no way of paying the bills. And would you charge just for the successful cycle or for all treatment received?

I agree about the health MOTs nastywoman but it would be interesting to see how many health complications are caught early die to the MOTs and treated easily rather than being caught late and incurring much higher treatment costs. I'm not sure about the breast cancer screening as I don't know how effective it is. Is it not similar to cervical screening?

I have very mixed feelings about the funding of fertility treatments whilst the NHS is struggling financially. One the one hand I think infertitlity can be devastating and cause mental health issues. On the other hand of several cycles are unsuccessful those mental health issues are going to be exacerbated. I also struggle with the idea of cutting any treatments which will potentially save existing lives or extending waiting times to levels which will make treatments more expensive and less effective in order to fund the creation of new lives. Whatever the NHS decide to do about fertility treatment funding it should be a national agreement so that regardless of where you live entitlement to fertility treatment remains the same.

tigerdog Fri 13-Jan-17 12:06:22

Completely agree with national policy for IVF entitlement, the unfairness of the postcode lottery has to stop.

I can see why fertility treatment feels like an obvious choice to cut, but there are many many treatments provided every day that are not lifesaving. Treatment for injuries from sport, minor operations on hips, knees, eyes, etc etc. that don't save lives but are carried out to ensure quality of life is maintained. If my leg was broken and an operation only gave some chance of restoring its function, I would still want to try it. Same with IVF.

Also, it seems very unfair that infertile women don't get NHS treatment but pregnant women do even for their third, fourth, fifth child. Of course, babies and mothers should be cared for in every way, without question but it is still unequal in the way money is spent. One IVF cycle is roughly equivalent in cost to the tax payer of the basic, routine maternity care of a non-complex healthy mother (excluding any care of the baby) and maternity costs are far higher if the mother has co-morbidities or complications.

What other criteria would you use to decide where to cut? It's a dangerous path to start thinking about the value of one person's characteristics over another - it is too subjective. Why specifically should a women with a medical issue that prevents her from having a child not recieve treatment? Who is more deserving cannot and should not be judged. Also we are not choosing between saving lives and IVF, although the media love that comparison as it makes it so much easier to justify cutting the funding. In reality the choice is much more mundane and most funding is spent on a lot of routine stuff that isn't life saving.

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