Have you heard the news? NHS IVF funding is at risk and it’s happening right now. As you read this blog there are consultations across the whole of the UK about reducing IVF provision or doing away with it altogether.
If you live in Hertfordshire and Essex then this affects you as well. Over the last couple of years we have seen the removal of NHS IVF funding for treatment in Essex with North East Essex CCG*, Mid-Essex CCG and Basildon & Brentwood CCG deciding to cancel funding. The same threat now faces patients covered by Herts Valley CCG (1 IVF cycle), East & North Herts CCG (3 IVF cycles) and West Essex CCG (2 IVF cycles) who are conducting a joint consultation on IVF services from 6 July–11 September 2017.
Herts & Essex Fertility Centre (HEFC) has been raising awareness and attending consultation meetings, as it fights to protect these services for patients in Hertfordshire. Despite HEFC’s best efforts, alongside other clinics and support groups, it seems likely that services will be drastically cut, or cancelled.
So how can I afford IVF?
For the hundreds of patients affected in the Herts and Essex areas, this will be the first question they ask. IVF is a high-skilled and high-cost service and private treatment costs £5-7,000 per attempt (known as a cycle). The average chance of a patient taking home a baby (regardless of age) is about 26% per cycle, so there are a lot of risks involved. But, there are options at Herts & Essex that can help patients make treatment more affordable:
Egg Sharing – sometimes patients need the use of another person’s eggs (donor eggs). If you are willing to share some of your eggs with another person then HEFC will provide your IVF treatment at no financial cost. Knowing you are helping someone else who is desperately in need of donor eggs is extremely appealing to many women. You will need to meet certain criteria and talk to a counsellor about the implications of sharing your eggs. However, if you meet the criteria and you’re comfortable with sharing your eggs it means you won’t be charged for your treatment.
Access Fertility Refund Programme – HEFC has partnered with Access Fertility to offer patients treatment programmes which fix the price of treatment, offer a discounted price and provide you with a refund if you don’t have a baby. Access Fertility also offers finance to help you afford your treatment.
On top of the two options discussed here, HEFC has a competitive price list that is aimed at giving patients value for money.
Where can I go for advice and support?
Aside from family and friends, it can sometimes be helpful to speak to other people and organisations who understand what you’re going through. Fertility Network UK is a national charity whose purpose is to provide information, advice, support and understanding to anyone who has ever experienced fertility problems. In addition to information on their website Fertility Network UK also have an info line (01424 732 361) and they run local support groups.
Herts & Essex Fertility Centre is also a great source of support and welcomes patients contacting them with any questions to find out how they can help.
*CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) are the bodies responsible for deciding how NHS money is spent in your community.
You can find a full list of CCGs here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ccg-details/
Ash Carroll-Miller is the founder and CEO of Access Fertility, a company he founded in 2013. Having spent all of his career in the health sector Ash has an in-depth knowledge of patient need, treatment priorities, NHS provision and private health. Ash has been involved in the fertility area for the past 7 years and, having seen the high cost of private treatment and the unfairness of NHS provision, Ash realised patients needed help in gaining access to treatment. His passion, and the mission of Access Fertility, is to find ways to help patients realise their dream of having a baby without placing themselves in financial risk.