Readers’ panel: Should IVF be a higher funding priority for the NHS?
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence say women aged 40 and under should be offered three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS if they meet certain criteria. But figures from the charity Fertility Fairness show a steady decline in the number of providers offering this, with fewer than one in five clinical commissioning groups in England offering the recommended treatment to eligible couples. Nursing Standard readers' panelists have their say.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence say women aged 40 and under should be offered three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS if they meet certain criteria. But figures from the charity Fertility Fairness show a steady decline in the number of providers offering this, with fewer than one in five clinical commissioning groups in England offering the recommended treatment to eligible couples. Nursing Standard readers' panelists have their say
Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust in London
Having children is often seen as a lifestyle choice. For some people, that choice is taken away because of infertility. I acknowledge the strain on NHS resources, and the distress infertility can cause those desperate to have children. But what is perhaps more distressing is being told you can’t receive NHS-funded IVF because your local CCG has cut funding, while a neighbouring CCG hasn’t. I would support a national tariff to regulate treatment costs in clinics, keeping costs down and ensure equal treatment provision across the country.
Liz Charalambous (@lizcharalambou) is a staff nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
The current NHS funding crisis appears to be reaching a tipping point. As a nation, we need to decide what we want from public health services, and we need equity in the decision making process.
At present, the reality of healthcare is that stark choices have to be made to keep existing services going. If current trends continue, it is highly likely that non-urgent medical care, such as IVF, will be sidelined in favour of life saving treatments. Politics always underpins health care; we must become more politically aware to secure the future of the NHS.
Grant Byrne (@GGByrne) is a nursing student in Scotland
The importance of IVF to a person’s mental health should not be underestimated. Parenthood is such a huge part of the human condition and our very sense of self can be shattered if we are unable to conceive. For a couple unable to get pregnant, the repercussions can be more than not being able to have children. These cuts are unsurprising, especially given the cutbacks already seen in mental health. The sad truth is that until NHS bosses and the government recognise that care is about more than just treating the physical condition, stories like this will remain all too common.
Linda Drake is a practice nurse in south London
As one who has the joy of two sons, both the result of assisted conception, I have a sense of the heartbreak experienced by couples who require help to have a family. But the NHS is buckling under the strain of a lack of funding and we read daily about people needing treatments, such as cataract surgery, which may be ‘rationed’ locally. To help patients make sense of this, the NHS has to be open and transparent about the way resources are allocated. There can be no more postcode lotteries.
Readers' panel members give their views in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations