Would you pay £20 to be in with the chance of winning infertility treatment worth £25,000? This has been the question up for debate over recent days, as a charity called To Hatch launched what is thought to be the world’s first IVF lottery.
The controversial monthly lottery has drawn widespread criticism from the public, fertility bodies and the Government watchdog the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which said it was ‘wholly inappropriate’.
And you can see why. It certainly seems to be targeting the vulnerable, people who for whatever reason cannot conceive naturally and for whom infertility treatment is their only hope, but who face long NHS waiting lists and can’t afford private treatment. And there is no way infertility treatment – or indeed any other medical procedure - should ever be a ‘lottery prize’, or part of a ‘game’, or who knows where this will end?
Indeed, one national newspaper has now investigated the lotto in more detail claiming that no British clinics have agreed to take part and provide treatment for winners, meaning winners will most likely be treated abroad - raising yet more ethical concerns over standards and procedures in foreign clinics.
Regardless of opinion, what this has done is once again turn the spotlight onto the need for NHS IVF treatment to be made more available.
If the IVF ‘postcode’ lottery didn’t exist, then this IVF lotto wouldn’t exist, because everyone would be able to access the treatment they need regardless of where they lived. Until NHS trusts start to give infertility the recognition it deserves as a medical condition – rather than seeing it as an easy cut to save money – then there will always be people who are so desperate for a child they’re willing to bet on it and face yet more heartache. Because for every IVF lotto winner, there will be too many losers.