Herts Ad Comment: Between haves and have-nots

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Imagine being told that you were eligible for something which could dramatically transform your life for the better, and then have that option snatched away from you at the last minute.

That’s the grim reality of the situation faced by Charlotte and Chris Waring, who have been told they would be eligible for the IVF treatment which could bring them the baby they’ve longed for - if only Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group hadn’t cut funding.

To make matters worse for the couple, if they only lived a couple of miles away, within the catchment area of East and North Herts CCG, they’d at least be entitled to one round of treatment, instead of none at all.

Charlotte and Chris have already gone through the agonising decision to remove an unborn baby after she suffered an ectopic pregnancy, and now their one chance of receiving fertility treatment has been cruelly snatched away at the eleventh hour.

Perhaps some of the other measures proposed by the CCG following the recent 10-week consultation are valid, including tightening rules to ensure smokers and obese people make bigger health improvements before having non-urgent surgery – unless a longer wait would be harmful of course.

But cutting IVF treatment is effectively denying anyone who cannot afford the private bill of £5,000 per cycle the chance to experience parenthood.

Think about the implications of that for a moment. It is arguably discrimination by salary, effectively preventing less affluent couples from having children, whereas those earning more can afford to spend out on private treatment.

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Is that something we really want to encourage in today’s society? It will ultimately lead to a distinction between the haves and have-nots, but in this case it will come down to whether they have the cash to “have” IVF or not.

Elsewhere in the county, local MPs have finally joined in the fight to secure the future of Nascot Lawn respite centre, months after this newspaper supported the campaign.

However, they have failed to offer a long-term solution to how the centre will be funded, or who should actually pick up the bill in the meantime?

Instead, we have a buck-passing scenario between Herts county council and, again, Herts Valleys CCG, with the centre still facing closure at the end of January 2018. They need to stop squabbling and look for a joined-up resolution to this crisis, working together to find the necessary funds to keep this indispensible service open.

At the risk of bringing politics into the debate, all of the cuts faced by the CCG - including IVF treatment - are ultimately the responsibility of the Conservative government, so maybe our Tory MPs and Tory-run county council need to be asking questions about funding much higher up the food chain?

In the meantime families who use the respite centre face continued uncertainty, and couples like Charlotte and Chris find themselves discriminated against in their bid to become parents.