We lobbied MPs for fairer funding of IVF in Essex

Essex couple Katy and Leigh moved from Rayleigh to Wickford before realising that they needed IVF treatment. If they had stayed in Rayleigh they would have been eligible for 2 rounds of NHS funding – whereas five miles away in Wickford there was none. “It was one more hurdle to get over” says Katy who has welcomed news of a consultation looking at how a policy for fairer funding of IVF could be implemented.

Katy still vividly remembers the heartache of being unable to get pregnant. “It can feel very lonely when it seems as though you are the only one who can’t conceive,” she says.

Hospital tests revealed that Katy had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can result in irregular ovulation. The couple were initially told to carry on trying to get pregnant naturally but, after another year of no success, underwent further tests and were told they would need IVF.

Katy, Leigh and Charlie call for fairer funding for IVF
Katy, Leigh and Charlie

News hit us badly

“The news we would need IVF hit us pretty badly, it was very hard to stay positive,” says Katy. “It seemed as though everyone we knew was getting pregnant and one of the hardest things was the constant stream of baby announcements on social media. I even had people telling me how ‘whoops’ they had fallen pregnant ‘by accident’ and how easy it had been. I felt really happy for people but at the same time I felt this insane jealousy.

“We were devastated when we found out we did not qualify for NHS-funded IVF as it was one more hurdle to get over to achieve our dream of our family, and it seemed a very unfair hurdle to have to face just because of our postcode.”

“Funded IVF means you can focus 100 per cent on your treatment”

The couple wrote to their local MP, Mark Francois, and also Matt Hancock, who was Health Secretary at the time, to lobby for equal NHS funding of IVF in Essex. “We did hear back from both of them but basically both of their letters were along the same lines of ‘sorry that is the way it is,’” she says.

Now the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB), the body responsible for healthcare across the region, has opened a consultation about how a fairer policy should be implemented.

“Having funded IVF would take some of the pressure off of an already incredibly emotional and stressful time,” says Katy. “It would be one less thing to worry about and organise, meaning you can focus 100% on your treatment. It is not a cheap process and you do not know how many rounds you will need. Everyone should receive the same help with funding, regardless of where you live to give everyone the same chance.”

Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB) consultation – have your say on fairer funding for IVF

There is a simple survey to complete – closing date 18th December 2022

For more information about the consultation read our post here. 

More information

Find out more about the consultation in our blog.

Katy, aged 32, is now mum to Charlie following successful IVF treatment at Bourn Hall – read more about her fertility journey here.

Bourn Hall provides both NHS-funded and self-funded IVF treatment to patients in the East of England – see more about our funding options.

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