Healthwatch wants Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to reverse its 2017 suspension of fertility services.
The CCG, who plan and pay for most local NHS services, suspended access to IVF on the NHS for most people, because they needed to save money.
At the time, we said the cuts were against national guidance, would affect people on low incomes the most and may not save the planned £700,000 per annum from local NHS budgets.
The decision was taken after a 20 week consultation over the summer of 2017 which more than 1,300 people responded to. People were overwhelmingly in favour of keeping access to IVF on the NHS. 82% of people rejected the proposals to suspend the service. The CCG also received a petition with 2,278 signatures.
We were also concerned about the impact the cuts could have on people with fertility problems in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Fertility Network UK, a charity that supports anyone affected by fertility issues, told us that in a 2018 survey*, 90% of people told them that infertility feels like a trauma.
They said that 94% say they don’t think their friends, family or colleagues really understand what they are going through in their journey to have a baby.
They also found that over a third of the people who responded had put themselves in financial jeopardy in order to have a baby.
Our Healthwatch promised to help the CCG assess the impact that their decision had on those affected by the suspension.
Sarah is 34 and was recently told that the only way she and her husband could have a baby would be through IVF. However, since the change in CCG’s policy, they are not currently able to get this treatment on the NHS.
She wants the CCG to reconsider their decision as the impact of infertility on her and her husband has been immense.
‘It is something that you think about every single day’, Sarah told us. ‘It’s not something that you can get over. It’s not something that you can forget about. It is constantly with you.
‘All of my friends have children. One has just announced that she’s having another one. It’s horrible, because you are so happy for them, and on the flip side you’re jealous.
‘I’ve got thyroid issues and it goes hand in hand with infertility. At the start of 2018, I saw a locum who put me through every single test.
Her husband also has fertility problems. Sarah told us that, ‘They’ve said his sperm (count) is very low and very immobile, so the likelihood of a successful pregnancy is virtually impossible without treatment.’
Sarah and her husband have looked into the options for private treatment, but this is not something they can afford.
‘Initially we were told its going to be £8,500. We both work hard, we both have for a long time, but who has that money lying around? I just can’t imagine not having a child, but that decision, I feel, has been taken away from me.
‘I can be sitting and having a conversation and then all of a sudden, it will overcome me, and I will burst into tears.
‘The worst thing is avoiding other people’s questions. It makes people feel awkward, even your close family and friends.
‘It would destroy me if we couldn’t have a baby. You feel completely inadequate. We both do.
‘It’s selfish as I want it to be overturned for me, but also for others.’
What Healthwatch is doing
If you have been affected by the decision to suspend IVF or want to share your opinion on it, please get in touch with us. Our information team are here to listen to you. We will share what you tell us with the CCG without identifying you.
We need your support to help the CCG understand how this has affected you. This is the chance to bring back fertility services on the NHS for people in our area.
- Call 0330 355 1285
- Text 0752 0635 176
- Feedback on our website – click here to feedback online
- 30 August 2017 Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group’s End of consultation report – click here to download.
- 1 September 2017 Healthwatch raises concerns about proposed fertility service cuts
- 5 September 2017 Specialist fertility services to be suspended in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
- 21 September 2017 Healthwatch challenges decision to suspend fertility services
*This data was provided by Fertility Network UK and comes from a survey of 1,000 people undertaken for a 2018 Channel 5 documentary on the impact of fertility struggles.