“NHS-funded IVF was a lifesaver,” says one of the first couples to benefit when the NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Integrated Care Board agreed to reinstate funding for specialised fertility treatment. The new contract to supply treatment has now been formalised and awarded to Bourn Hall, the world’s first IVF clinic, which provides NHS funded IVF for all regions of the East of England and East Midlands.
The NHS contract was successfully re-awarded to Bourn Hall on technical merit, which included a high technical score and success rates, technical skill, quality of care and service delivery. There are no waiting times for treatment at Bourn Hall and 60% of patients under the age of 35 have a baby following one egg collection procedure*.
Kelly from Peterborough was only 22 when she was told that several ectopic pregnancies had damaged her tubes and she would struggle to have a baby naturally. At that time, NHS funding for fertility treatment was not available in Peterborough so she started saving for private IVF treatment. That was five years ago.
Then in July 2021 Kelly and husband Dan heard the good news that IVF treatment would be available on the NHS to people living in Cambridgeshire, and, having done their research, chose Bourn Hall for treatment. It was successful first time and their son Harlan-Ray was born just before Christmas.
“NHS funding gave us a lifeline,” says Kelly. “I was under so much stress I had to resign from work to concentrate on treatment; the thought of paying for it would have added so much more pressure.”
Research for Fertility Network UK conducted by Middlesex University found that 90% of people facing long-term infertility experienced depression, and 42% had reported feeling suicidal.
Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, CEO and Medical Director at Bourn Hall Clinic, comments: “Infertility is a medical condition, which also has an impact on mental health and relationships.
“The re-introduction of funding is already making a huge difference to couples struggling with infertility, as Kelly and Dan were. Removing the postcode lottery is now enabling everyone who meets the criteria to have the chance of a baby.”
Kelly says: “Being infertile is isolating. I wanted a child before all my friends, and they were all on number two or three before I had even got pregnant. I blocked myself off from them and have lost a lot of friends.
“Now I have Harlan I wouldn’t change any of it. I am enjoying being a stay-at-home mum and in the future I would like to become a midwife or a fertility nurse. I have learnt so much on my fertility journey and I would love to be able to help others.”
Dr Papathanasiou comments that the majority of people conceive naturally within two years, so if couples have been trying for longer than this, they should talk to their GP in the first instance and gain expert advice. “We are always happy to talk to people about their fertility health; not everyone needs IVF to conceive, and we offer advice and treatment that is tailored for the patient.”
Patients are referred for IVF by their hospital consultant in accordance with the NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough ICB eligibility criteria. Patients can choose where to be treated from the list of IVF providers detailed on the referral proforma.
Find out more about funding options for IVF on our website here, or more information is available from Bourn Hall’s dedicated patient support coordinators by phone on 01954 717210 or email at [email protected].
*Includes a fresh embryo transfer and, if available, subsequent frozen embryo transfers resulting from a single egg collection procedure.