Level down or level up? NHS funded IVF in Luton and Bedfordshire

The emotional impact of infertility is huge; research has found that infertility almost doubles the risk of depression in women and causes strain on relationships*. The Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) CCG has launched a consultation about whether it should reduce its support for NHS funded IVF in Luton from February 2022.

Currently if you live in Bedford or Milton Keynes, you may be eligible for one cycle of NHS funded IVF. However, if you live in Luton the treatment is the full three cycles, as recommended by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) for providing the best chance of success.

Bourn Hall has been providing NHS treatment to the people of Bedfordshire for over ten years. In 2019 the live birth rate for NHS patients in Bedford was 43%, which is significantly above the national average and for those from Luton it was nearer to 70%.

Dr Mike Macnamee, Chief Executive of Bourn Hall, says: “The number of people requiring IVF is very small but for those involved it is life-changing. In Bedford over the last five years, we have treated 312 couples, resulting in 119 babies.

“Infertility is caused by many factors, which creates many unknowns for treatment. Offering the potential of three fresh cycles reduces the stress for patients as they know they can have another chance.

“Involuntary childlessness blights lives. The CCG has the option to level up and offer three cycles to all patients in Bedfordshire. Knowing that they have been given this chance removes the ‘if only’ and can help people move on to create fulfilling lives, even if they are not ultimately successful.”

For patients Angeliqua and Haydn Smith from Luton, the three cycles gave them Isabella, now 20 months old. She was conceived after their third – and final – round of NHS-funded treatment.

Angeliqua says: “Were it not for us being able to access the full three rounds of NHS-funded IVF treatment we would possibly not have our beautiful daughter. Life is just magical now!

“Three cycles is what is recommended by NICE and we strongly believe that other couples in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes in need of IVF treatment all deserve to have the same chance of success that we had. Everyone deserves a chance to become parents.”

NHS funded IVF in Luton

BLMK CCG is proposing to reduce the current offer of three cycles of IVF to residents in Luton to one cycle for all eligible patients. The public consultation runs from 12th October to 21st December and the CCG particularly wants the views of people not directly affected by the cut.

So, if you know someone that is struggling with infertility then do participate in the consultation.

The questionnaire is available on this link.

Bourn Hall provides appointments at its clinic partnered by Luton and Dunstable Hospital .

* Infertility-related stress and the risk of antidepressants prescription in women: a 10-year register study Juliana Pedro et al. Human Reproduction, Volume 34, Issue 8, August 2019, Pages 1505–1513, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dez110

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