Hatfield couple distraught after NHS IVF treatment is suspended

PUBLISHED: 09:23 07 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:13 07 July 2017

NHS IVF treatment has been suspended. Image shows the fertilisation process taking place in a lab. Picture: Phil Mynott

NHS IVF treatment has been suspended. Image shows the fertilisation process taking place in a lab. Picture: Phil Mynott

Philip Mynott +44(0)1223441995

A Hatfield couple who yearn to have children are devastated after finding out that NHS IVF treatment across the majority of Hertfordshire has been suspended.

Tim, 35, and Fion Smalley, 37, of Old Hatfield have been trying for a baby since they became engaged three years ago but after no success, they decided to visit their doctor.

The couple who wed in 2015 were offered IVF treatment at their last appointment in March, but as there was one other option before this last resort they chose to try it, but it sadly it didn’t work.

On June 26 the pair attended what should have been a routine appointment at Hertfordshire GynaeCATS Clinic at Colney Medical Centre but instead found out some devastating news.

Self-employed consultant Tim said: “We were told that IVF treatment has been suspended from June for six months while it’s under review, but might never return.

“To say we are devastated is an understatement, we feel completely let down by the NHS.

“We have always wanted to have children. My wife is devastated.”

The couple is now left with two choices to either go private or to adopt. If the couple decides to pay for IVF at a private clinic they could face costs of up to £5,000 or more for just one cycle.

Tim told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “We can’t afford to go private but if we have to we will find a way.

“We have nothing against adoption but my wife wants to mother her own child and we want to have a child of our own; it’s the dream and we feel like hope is being taken away from us.”

Tim added: “It’s been difficult for both of us but my wife has had to do all the work such as taking these hormone pills. We joke and call them her angry pills.

“I’m just trying to be there for her and support her but it’s so heartbreaking.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which covers the council districts of Dacorum, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers and Watford, said: “Referrals to IVF and specialist fertility providers were suspended on June 16, for a period of around six months for patients registered with a GP in west Hertfordshire.

“During this time the CCG will be reviewing and formally consulting with local residents and other interested stakeholders on whether we continue to fund IVF and other specialist fertility treatments in the future.”

The consultation started on Monday, July 3, and a final decision will be made at the CCG board meeting in

October.

Dr David Buckle, medical director at Herts Valleys CCG, said: “We have not taken this difficult decision lightly.

“This decision was taken as part of a six-month review of and consultation on IVF and specialised fertility provision that we are undertaking.

“It by no means predetermines the outcome of the consultation. It has been put in place to prevent an unsustainable backlog building up during the review period.

“Exceptional cases, for example where a woman is at the upper age limit for IVF treatment during the consultation, can be considered via an individual funding request (IFR) application.

“During this period referrals into existing community and secondary care gynaecological and fertility services (investigations, assessments etc) will continue, the only change being the option of IVF or other speciality fertility treatment as defined in our policy.

“There will be opportunities for all our stakeholders to get involved with the review to provide their input and feedback. We will publicise these opportunities widely.

“In the meantime comments and questions can be sent to enquiries.hvccg@nhs.net.

“We are in touch with the couple who have approached the Welwyn Hatfield Times and are providing them with advice on their specific circumstances.”

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