St Albans woman speaks out about “discriminatory” IVF cuts
- Credit: Archant
A devastated St Albans woman struggling to conceive has branded “disgraceful” proposals to scrap NHS IVF treatment in the district as “discriminatory”.
Herts Valley Clinicial Commissioning Group (CCG) recently suspended IVF treatment in a bid to save £45million.
The group is currently consulting on the proposals, which also include reducing prescriptions easily available from chemists and supermarkets, reducing the number of people with access to vasectomies and female sterilisation, and reviewing how hearing aids are allocated.
Sports therapist Charlotte Waring, 34, has endometriosis and last year suffered an ectopic pregnancy at seven weeks - this is a potentially life-threatening condition where the foetus grows in the fallopian tube rather than the womb.
The condition means cells which normally line the womb grow in other areas and can cause heavy periods, pelvic pain, and fatigue, along with being associated with fertility problems.
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Charlotte described the moment she was told, after years of trying to conceive, that her unborn baby had to be removed: “I was put in a position were they turned the monitor around, turned the screen around, and showed me the baby’s heartbeat, and then said, ‘we are going to have to remove the pregnancy because the tube will rupture, and you can bleed to death’.
“Obviously as someone who has never been a mother before, as soon as you realise you are pregnant, you become attached. And I was thinking, ‘How can I
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let them take it out? What are they going to do with it? How long does it take for the heartbeat to stop?’.”
Although neither her nor the baby could survive if it was allowed to keep growing, she was devastated by the news.
“It cannot survive in the fallopian tube anyway, there is a risk to your life and the baby will die once it ruptures, so we didn’t have a choice, but everything inside you is making you think you need to stop them removing the embryo.”
Charlotte has not been able to become pregnant again, and was told she would be a prefect candidate for IVF - if the CCG had not cut funds to the service.
She said: “It’s a discrimination issue. It’s not my choice to have had two medical conditions that made me lose the baby and struggle to conceive again.
“If people without a disease chose to have a baby their medical care is funded all the way through pregnancy.
“You are supporting their choice to have a baby but not supporting a woman with a medical condition. I feel so strongly, it’s disgraceful.”
Although some NHS CCGs around the country provide three rounds of IVF - all Charlotte wants is one chance to have a baby.
She stresses that she does not think routine medical care for expectant mothers should be cut, but believes IVF should not come under the knife either. It will also increase strain on mental health services, she believes, as infertile couples may turn depressive trying to cope with the hopelessness of their diagnosis, when IVF is not provided.
Private IVF treatment can cost up to £5,000 or more for just one cycle.
A Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group spokesperson said: “The NHS in Hertfordshire faces a severe funding shortfall which requires us to examine all our expenditure very closely so that we can make best use of our limited resources.”
He said the feedback is being examined before a decision is taken: “This is absolutely not a question of discrimination, but rather about the NHS taking a long and hard look at how we spend our money.”
The consultation ends today (September 14) - Comments and questions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org