A married couple from Portsmouth have won a rare IVF funding victory against their local PCT following a hard-fought legal battle. The couple have tried unsuccessfully for a baby for over three years and, despite numerous appeals, were refused funding for IVF treatment on the NHS by Portsmouth City PCT, under the umbrella of South Central, due to the husband’s child from his previous marriage. Following an unsuccessful appeal through their GP, they contacted their local MP, Ms Penny Mordaunt for help, who put the couple in touch with me as a leading expert in fertility law.
Whilst this victory is very welcome, it still leaves many people facing uphill funding battles with their PCTs, which is why I have written to the Secretary of State for Health on this matter.
There needs to be routine implementation of the NICE guidance across the board. There also needs to be greater recognition and understanding of infertility, which blights too many people’s lives and better support for people struggling to have a family and those needing to undergo IVF.
It is unfair to deny a childless woman access to IVF on the NHS if her partner has a child from a previous relationship. This actively discriminates against women and denies them the opportunity to bear their own children and become mothers.
By introducing such stringent age restrictions, it denies younger women access to treatment who have three years of proven infertility when they will have a better chance of conceiving at a younger age. Equally it restricts access to treatment by women who do not actively try for a baby until later in life and who struggle to achieve three years of proven infertility.
Infertility affects one in seven couples in the UK (approx 3.5 million people). The current IVF postcode lottery, coupled with conflicting IVF funding policies between PCTs causes immeasurable heartache and distress for people when faced with the stark reality that they will not be offered the recommended number of free IVF cycles on the NHS or worse none at all. Private fertility treatment can cost thousands of pounds which is too often beyond the reach of the average couple, particularly in the current economic climate.