One of the first mums to be treated at the Cambridge IVF clinic has expressed dismay at news that NHS-funded IVF services have been suspended throughout Cambridgeshire.
Ami Cull, whose twins Enzo and Emiah were born in August 2013, called the decision “maddening”, warning it would cause heartache for countless couples.
This month Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group announced it would suspend IVF treatment with immediate effect because it had to save £46 million this financial year.
Ami told Spotted in Ely: “The stress, anxiety and depression of not conceiving, even when a known problem was diagnosed, was devastating for us as a young married couple, and to save that amount for private IVF would have taken us into our 30s, where IVF has a lower success rate.”
Ami, then living in Ely, was 28 when she gave birth to the twins.
She initially underwent a cycle of treatment between August and September 2012 at the newly built Cambridge IVF, a special unit near Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
“It didn’t result in pregnancy but we had 10 embryos frozen which were used for Enzo and Emiah that Christmas. They were born the following August.
“We felt very lucky at the time as we fell in a good area in the postcode lottery and were able to have three cycles on the NHS when others only got one shot in their counties.
“I am very surprised Cambridge has done this after being the founding city for IVF.”
The Cambridge IVF clinic was the first in the East of England to offer all fertility treatments to patients under the NHS.
Chief clinical officer Dr Gary Howsam, of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, said the decision had been a “very difficult” one for the governing body to make and people would be “disappointed”.
The announcement was made following a 20 week public consultation over the summer. During that time the CCG received 1311 responses as well as a petition containing 2278 signatures.
Mr Howsam said the decision to suspend treatment had been “financially necessary” and would be reviewed in April 2019.
He added: “Specialist IVF services are part of a range of investigations and treatments that can help couples to conceive.
“I would encourage anyone with fertility problems to go to their GP who can discuss with them the treatment options available.
“Couples can still be referred on to hospital for further tests to investigate the cause of their infertility. Many causes of infertility can be successfully treated without the need to go on to IVF.
Couples who have already been referred for specialist fertility services will still receive one cycle of IVF.
Meanwhile a petition has been launched, calling on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG to reconsider their decision to suspend IVF treatment.
The petition, which has over 3000 signatures so far, states: “Hundreds of couples throughout Cambridgeshire and Peterborough face a future without being able to have children now the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Commissioning group have withdrawn NHS funding for IVF treatment.
“Many men and women have medical health issues stopping them from conceiving naturally.
“Surely the NHS, we pay for, should be assisting all medical needs?
“What is more important than giving life?”
You can see the petition here.