On Thursday 19 January MPs will debate the decommissioning of IVF and other NHS fertility services in Westminster Hall. This debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following a representation from Steve McCabe, Tom Brake and Edward Vaizey.
The UK pioneered IVF and UK fertility treatment is internationally recognised. We appeal to the MPs to consider the human, societal and economic value of fertility treatment and support the work of Steve McCabe MP, Fertility Network UK and Fertility Fairness in drawing attention to the inequity in fertility provision across the UK.
Infertility is a disease that causes severe emotional distress and psychological illness. For the majority of people ‘family’ is the most important part of their lives.
It is also eminently treatable. According to Bourn Hall’s experience over a seven year period when people that met the NHS guidelines were treated according to the NICE guidelines of IVF – 8 out of 10 women treated had a baby.
A small investment in the future of an ageing population.
Additionally, IVF is only required by a minority of people with infertility – but proper investigation by a specialist is required to determine the cause and best form of treatment. Faster access to a specialist when a couple is young would increase the chance of natural conception and improve success rates for all types of treatment.
According to the WHO infertility is a disease: Infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”… (WHO-ICMART glossary1).
WHO also states that infertility is a disability: Disability: Infertility generates disability (an impairment of function), and thus access to health care falls under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
Numerous scientific papers report the huge psychological impact on women and men with infertility issues, for example:
BMJ paper Psychological aspects of infertility states: Parenthood is one of the major transitions in adult life for both men and women. The stress of the non-fulfilment of a wish for a child has been associated with emotional distress such as anger, depression, anxiety, marital problems and feelings of worthlessness. Partners may become more anxious to conceive, ironically increasing sexual dysfunction and social isolation. Marital discord often develops in infertile couples, especially when they are under pressure to make medical decisions. Couples experience stigma, sense of loss, and diminished self-esteem in the setting of their infertility (Coleman J, Nonacs, R MGH Center for Woman’s Mental Health. Infertility,Assisted Reproduction and Mental Health)
Knowledge of genomics is revolutionising personalised medicine – another area where the UK excels. Applying this knowledge to infertility will keep the UK at the forefront of this area of medicine.
Fertility treatment is essential on all levels – individual, societal and economic.
Help to stop decommissioning of IVF services
Bourn Hall supports Steve McCabe MP, Fertility Network UK and Fertility Fairness in their drive to secure equal and fair access to fertility treatment across England.