Hopes for a family life dashed by more NHS cuts

This evening I listened to a presentation by Southend CCG on their proposal to end IVF treatment for childless couples in Southend. In front of a Special Meeting of Southend Council’s People Scrutiny Committee, Dr Jose Garcia Lobera, Chair of the CCG, explained how ending this treatment for around 50 couples each year – that’s 100 people desperate to have a child of their own to love and raise, would save £200,000 as part of the local cost-cutting Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP). This is just one more item to add to the steadily growing list of treatments that the NHS will no longer provide locally such as spinal injections for back-related pain and limiting hip and knee replacement surgery, amongst other things. The only option will be for patients to pay privately for this treatment.

IVF Fertility treatment will stop for most childless couples in Southend. © Can Stock Photo / zven0

It was less than 40 years ago in 1978 that the world’s first ‘test tube’ baby, Louise Brown, was born in Oldham thanks to the pioneering work of Nobel Prize-winning British doctor Robert Edwards and his associate Patrick Steptoe. The hope that was given to millions of childless couples by these incredible advances that have been made in medicine is now being taken away from residents of Southend thanks to the cuts in NHS budgets made by this government.

It is now very much a ‘postcode lottery’, with your address in Essex determining whether your local CCG will fund this treatment or not. With over £400 million worth of cuts planned for the NHS in Mid & South Essex, what will be the next services to be axed? The £200,000 for IVF is a drop in the ocean and the thin end of a very large wedge. What will we have to be paying for privately in five years time?

To take part in the consultation, you can express your views here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/sosivf

And read the CCG document here: http://southendccg.nhs.uk/…/Public_Consultation_Document_-_…

If Southend CCG does remove NHS IVF, it will make the region the worst in the country in terms of access to NHS IVF. Three CCGs have already removed NHS IVF – Basildon and Brentwood CCG, North East Essex CCG and mid-Essex CCG, and West Essex CCG is currently consulting on cutting from 2 IVF cycles to zero.

Commenting on these cuts, Susan Seenan, chief executive of Fertility Network UK said: ‘Infertility has a serious and lasting impact on all those affected; removing access to NHS treatment is a short-sighted and false economy. Fertility problems do not just affect people physically, but mentally too: 90% of people experience depression; 42% suicidal thoughts and relationships are affected (70%). Please complete the survey and help to stop these changes.

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