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Dorset couple affected by IVF rule change

7 February 2011
Appeared in BioNews 594

A couple from Dorset expecting to receive two cycles of IVF on the NHS has spoke out against the trust after being told they could have access to only one.

Natalie and Stuart Cranston were referred to the fertility service at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital in 2007. After an alleged misdiagnosis, the couple transferred to the Dorset County Hospital but on learning of an 18-week waiting list, they sought private IVF treatment. However, following a successful procedure Mrs Cranston later miscarried.

NHS Bournemouth and Poole had advised the couple they could receive up to two cycles of IVF on the NHS before Mrs Cranston reached 39 years of age. However, a recent change in policy means women must now be referred before the age of 35, with treatment complete before they turn 37. The couple has now been told that they will receive just one cycle on the NHS.

Mrs Cranston, who is 38 years old, said: 'It's incredibly unfair that couples who have been in the system for a long time waiting for their IVF to start are being let down. I understand that funding is an issue and tough decisions have to be made, but they should not be applied to couples who are already on the waiting list'.

Commenting on the news, Mr Cranston said: 'We desperately want a child, we've been told our chances of having a baby through IVF are high and we've endured a slow medical system only to be let down when we reach the final hurdle'.

NICE guidelines recommend that women between the ages of 23 and 39 should be offered up to three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS.

NHS Bournemouth and Poole claims its change in policy will provide: 'more opportunity for positive outcomes for couples and to ensure there is effective targeting of resources'. A spokeswoman for the trust said: 'We recognise that the updated policy will affect some couples and have implemented transition arrangements to help with this depending on their individual circumstances'.

'We understand that this is an emotive subject and have worked closely with couples as well as making the policy information available through the local hospitals and GPs to provide guidance', it said.


SOURCES & REFERENCES
NHS Bournemouth and Poole
|  4 February 2011
NHS 'red tape' halves couples IVF chance
Bournemouth Echo |  29 January 2011
The NICE fertility guideline
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellance (NICE) |  2004
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