A leading Manchester fertility expert has slammed the results of a Parliamentary report which revealed the extent of the IVF ‘postcode lottery’ in the North West.
Three Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in the region – Stockport, Bury and Warrington - were highlighted in the report for either providing severely restricted IVF treatment for couples, or none at all. Stockport and Warrington have cut IVF funding altogether, whilst Bury will only give it to women who are aged between 39 and 40.
Professor Brian Lieberman, who founded the UK’s first fully-funded NHS IVF unit in 1982 and went on to launch private infertility clinic Manchester Fertility based in the city centre in 1986, says it’s ‘wholly unacceptable’ that couples are being denied the treatment they need.
“IVF for some reason isn’t seen as essential treatment by these PCTs. What this means is that infertile couples in the region are now being faced with a stark choice – pay privately or don’t have a family. It’s wholly unacceptable. IVF was pioneered to overcome infertility, which is an illness and which people don’t have any control over. It’s not a ‘lifestyle’ illness, and it’s about time PCTs recognised this.
“The fact that Bury, for example, won’t even consider IVF until a woman is 39 is completely flawed. The reality is that the chances of IVF working for a woman at this age are small – much smaller than they would have been, had she had treatment sooner at 35. So couples are faced with a long wait until they’re the ‘eligible’ age, only for the odds to be stacked against them before they’ve even started.”
Whilst Manchester Fertility has seen an increase in the number of patients from funded-cut areas such as Stockport, Warrington and Bury, Professor Lieberman says he would rather they received the right treatment in the first place.
“You would think that as a private IVF and infertility treatment provider, we’d be pleased that people were being ‘forced’ to go private through this IVF lottery. But the truth is far removed from that.
“What we’re seeing are couples who are completely stressed before they’ve even started their IVF journey, because suddenly they’re having to find the money to pay for treatment. Or, in the worst scenarios, people who have had to wait that long for NHS treatment that by the time they come through our doors, their chances of success are minimal.
“We don’t want to give people that news. If they had the proper treatment in the first place from their Primary Care Trust, much of this heartache could be avoided.”
One of the options open to couples faced with having to pay for private IVF is egg-sharing, where a woman going through IVF agrees to donate some of her eggs to help those who need donor eggs for pregnancy, in return for much-cheaper IVF treatment. At Manchester Fertility, it brings the cost of a typical IVF cycle down to £870, inclusive of all drugs and screening tests. For more information visit www.manchesterfertility.com/treatments/egg-sharing/
ENDS June 2011
Notes to Editors: Manchester Fertility, a leading provider of private fertility services, infertility treatment and IVF in the North West, was launched in 1986 by Professor Brian Lieberman. Based at Cheadle Royal in Manchester, Manchester Fertility offers a wide range of infertility treatments ranging from IVF and ICSI to treatment using donated sperm or eggs. Since its launch, over 3,500 babies have been born with the help of Manchester Fertility. It also has a successful donor sperm and egg programme. For more information, visit www.manchesterfertility.com and www.manchesterdonors.com
Last updated: 27th January 2020