"Discriminatory Hospital Policy"

About: Princess Anne Hospital

My partner & I are currently trying for a baby but unfortunately my partner suffers from PCOS so we are unable to conceive naturally & require assistance.

This is where the problems have begun:

- NICE guidelines state an NHS Trust should offer 3 rounds of IVF up to the age of 39.

- Southampton do not follow the NICE guidelines & only allow 1 cycle of IVF up to the age of 35.

- Many Trusts around the country offer IVF treatment beyond the NICE guidelines (i.e. up to the age of 42 for example).

- I appreciate NHS funding is strained & Trusts need to prioritise funding, but Southampton is discriminating against people based on age & lifestyle to reduce demand/access to fertility treatment.

- It's basically a post code lottery as to whether you'll get sufficient support or not.

- There is a distinct lack of info about the eligibility requirements to be accepted on the fertility plan here in Southampton especially as it differs from the national guidelines.

- Unless you're actively trying or proactive this info will probably never come to light.

- Social media is great. We are members of many PCOS groups, with people from all over the country & one of the things that is discussed frequently is pregnancy - because of this we are aware of how other clinics operate & the sort of treatments a woman is likely to undergo.

- Again, this highlights how low of a priority Southampton view fertility assistance.

Women in similar situations to us elsewhere in the country were getting their chlomid dosage increased despite the lowest dosage producing follicles on the ovary. My partner produced a single follicle on the ovary with the lowest dose, but the chlomid dose was not changed - which meant every cycle it was touch & go as to whether a follicle would be produced or not.

- My partner also does not produce the hormone to actually trigger ovulation & requires a trigger shot. During our 3rd cycle of chlomid we discovered the clinic had actually run out of the injection, they were unaware of when any new stock would arrive & we were told we had effectively wasted our time over the previous month - all of the stress was for nothing.

- Without the trigger shot we were told there is no point continuing with the chlomid cycles & we should just apply for IVF.

- Part of the application for IVF is demonstrating that you have made multiple attempts with the chlomid treatment: we have managed 2.5 cycles; we only discovered about the age limit due to a throwaway comment by our GP 6 months before my partners 35th & now the clinic doesnt actually have the drugs to carry out fertility assistance; our chances for acceptance are slim at best.

- Even if we are accepted, its a single round of IVF - at best we have 1, 1 in 3 chance of having a family.

The inconsistent policies from Trust to Trust show how discriminatory NHS Trusts have become - frequently we see in the media restrictions for smokers & the obese as well.

This goes against the founding principles of the NHS.

Story from NHS Choices

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Responses

Response from Debbie Watson, Patient Experience Advisor, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

I am sorry that you have concerns regarding the access to fertility services.

If you and your partner would like to contact patientsupportservices@uhs.nhs.uk or telephone 023 81206350 they will be able to assist you with your enquiries and provide answers to your specific circumstances.

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