Hillingdon women face a postcode Lottery in NHS Care for In vitro Fertilisation treatment.

Today’s BBC news article “NHS acting as ‘barrier to families”  (23/010/2014) highlights Healthwatch Hillingdon’s ongoing concern that people in the London Borough of Hillingdon and across North West London are only given one chance of having a baby by In vitro Fertilisation (IVF) after all other options have been tried without success.

As one hopeful couple in Hillingdon told us “no woman would want to choose to put themselves through the IVF procedure, but for us this is our one and only chance to have a baby” and also “the stress and pressure of knowing that we only get one chance at IVF has not helped me during my pregnancy, I keep thinking what if this does not work?“.

Couples have also told Healthwatch Hillingdon that they cannot understand why, since the NHS is funded through general taxation at a national level, that decisions on which NHS treatments to fund are been left to unelected Commissioning Groups at the local level: “if we had lived a 50 metres away in Hertfordshire, we would have had 3 chances of IVF and this would have taken the stress & pressure off us, but no one told us that your postcode would determine whether the NHS would give you 1 chance or 3 chances of having a baby and now it is too late to move home“.

Many couples believe this leads to a postcode lottery in NHS care and they question whether we now still have a National Health Service or not. The GP-led NHS Hillingdon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS Hillingdon CCG) in January 2014 chose not to follow the recommendations of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Healthwatch Hillingdon to offer 3 cycles of IVF. Instead, the NHS Hillingdon CCG voted to offer only 1 cycle of IVF as they did not think it was cost-effective to follow the NICE national guidelines. Now residents of the London Borough of Hillingdon will be trying to understand why couples in other parts of London and in neighbouring counties will be able to have 3 cycles of IVF, whereas they will only be offered one chance.

Healthwatch Hillingdon has proposed alternative funding options to the NHS Hillingdon CCG which would allow the NHS Hillingdon CCG to follow the NICE IVF guidelines without the need to cut other NHS services.

To read the NHS Hillingdon CCG’s policy on IVF and other NHS operations (including Knee replacement, Hip replacement, hernias etc.) which have restricted access applied for the residents of London Borough of Hillingdon please click here: