A top Manchester fertility expert has slammed the results of a parliamentary report which revealed the extent of the IVF ‘postcode lottery’ in the region.
Professor Brian Lieberman, who founded Britain’s first fully-funded NHS IVF unit in 1982, hit out, saying it’s ‘wholly unacceptable’ that couples are being denied the treatment they need.
He spoke out after a new study by a cross-party group of MPs showed Stockport was one of just five NHS trusts which does not offer IVF to couples struggling to have a baby.
Bosses at NHS Stockport stopped funding cycles of treatment for new patients as part of a drive to save £300,000 a year.
Professor Lieberman, who went on to launch private infertility clinic Manchester Fertility Services based in the city centre, said: "IVF for some reason isn’t seen as essential treatment by some PCTs.
"What this means is that infertile couples in the region are now being faced with a stark choice – pay privately or don’t have a family. It’s wholly unacceptable.
"IVF was pioneered to overcome infertility, which is an illness and which people don’t any control over.
"It’s not a ‘lifestyle’ illness, and it’s about time PCTs recognised this."
While Manchester Fertility Services has seen an increase in the number of patients from funded-cut areas such as Stockport, Professor Lieberman says he would rather they received the right treatment in the first place.
He added: "You would think that as a private IVF and infertility treatment provider, we’d be pleased that people were being ‘forced’ to go private through this IVF lottery. But the truth is far removed from that.
"What we’re seeing are couples who are completely stressed before they’ve even started their IVF journey, because suddenly they’re having to find the money to pay for treatment or, in the worst scenarios, people who have had to wait that long for NHS treatment that by the time they come through our doors, their chances of success are minimal."
National guidance says infertile couples should be offered three cycles of treatment on the NHS, where the woman is aged between 23 and 39.
Article: 8th June 2011 Manchester Evening News www.menmedia.co.uk
Read more about IVF and home insemination at www.prideangel.com