Today marks the launch of an important new campaign calling for fair access to NHS IVF for all. Read on to find out how you can help...
Did you know that 3.5 million people – that’s 1 in 6 couples – are affected by fertility issues? If it’s not you, then it will probably be someone you know.
Yet 98% of England’s NHS services and all of those in Wales and Northern Ireland ration IVF services, often meaning access to treatment that could be the only way you could have a child could depend on where you live.
Today, the UK charity Fertility Network, in collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, is launching #ScreamForIVF, an important new campaign to give a voice to couples with fertility problems and push for a debate on the issue in Parliament.
Through #Scream4IVF, the charity is calling for fair access to IVF in the UK. It asks the British public to record themselves screaming on social media, which will be collated to form the world’s longest scream for IVF, to be played at a rally outside Parliament on Wednesday October 10.
Fertility Network aims to collect 100,000 signatures in an online petition so that the issue of unfair IVF access can be debated in the Houses of Parliament.
Why is the #ScreamForIVF campaign so important?
“The scale of damage infertility wreaks is vast,” says Aileen Feeney, Fertility Network’s Chief Executive. “It can destroy relationships, lead to serious mental health problems, create social isolation, and cripple people financially. Facing a life without the children you long for means screaming in pain, despair, frustration, desperation, and rage. But these screams of infertility are not being heard. This suffering is in silence.”
In what way is current access to IVF unfair?
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, access to NHS fertility treatment is determined by where a couple lives, or by their social circumstances – for example, whether one of the couple has a child from a previous relationship. 98% of England’s NHS services and all of Wales and Northern Ireland unfairly ration IVF treatment.
By contrast, in Scotland, all eligible couples have access to the recommended fertility treatment of three full IVF cycles, including access for couples in which one person has a child from a previous relationship.
“In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, couples struggling with fertility problems face an unethical and unfair postcode lottery to get access to IVF,” says Anya Sizer, Fertility Network’s Regional Organiser London. “Some couples are forced to spend their life savings or re-mortgage their house to fund private treatment. Those who can’t afford it but who still want to try for a family either have to move to an area that does enable access to NHS fertility treatment or have to travel abroad for treatment. It’s simply unfair – treatment for the disease of infertility should not be determined by your postcode.”
Why is the recommended fertility treatment important?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the UK’s chief health advisory body, recommends three full cycles of IVF as the treatment for infertility. This recommended treatment increases the chances of a successful pregnancy by up to 53%.
The consequences of infertility include serious mental health problems, with associated long-term financial costs to the NHS.
“England was the pioneer in developing IVF,” says Feeney. “However, that achievement means far less if only those who can afford to pay for private fertility treatment benefit from this life-changing technology. The scale of disinvestment in NHS fertility services is at its worst since NICE introduced national fertility guidelines in 2004. The Government should be ashamed that, after 40 years of IVF, it is your postcode and your pay packet, and not your medical need, that are the key determinants of whether you will be able to try IVF. We urge them to take action now to change this.”
How can you get involved in the campaign?
Sign the petition: Fertility Network aims to collect 100,000 signatures so that the issue of unfair IVF access can be debated in the Houses of Parliament.You can sign the petition here.
Share your scream: Record yourself screaming on social media and tag the video with #Scream4IVF. It will be collated as part of the world’s longest IVF scream, to be played at a rally outside parliament on October 10th.