A young woman with cancer believes her dream of having children has been put at risk because of an ‘unfair postcode lottery’ NHS policy.
Chichester nurse Rebecca Sloly, 25, is about to start chemotherapy and hormone treatment for breast cancer.
She and her husband are desperate to have a family but have been told the full IVF treatment they want won’t be funded or permitted by their NHS trust.
Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will extract and store her eggs but won’t fund converting them into embryos before freezing, which a fertility clinic has said stands a much greater chance of success.
Rebecca’s plea to be allowed to pay for her extracted eggs to be fertilised and frozen privately was also turned down by the CCG.
“I said I’d pay to have my eggs turned into embryos but they turned that down without a real reason, just that it was policy,” said Rebecca, a nurse at St Richard’s Hospital.
“That’s the most frustrating thing, it just makes no sense.”
It is common practice for people living within Hampshire CCG to have eggs extracted on the NHS and then be allowed to pay for them to be fertilised privately, a spokesman for Wessex Fertility Clinic, which is helping the couple, said.
Rebecca said: “The hormonal treatment lasts five years and it’s only then we can try for a baby so I’ll have to pay for it then anyway.”
She added: “Dealing with breast cancer is a whirlwind I never thought I’d have to go through and now I’m having to battle to have a baby.
“It’s been horrendous.”
“We were trying when I found out about the cancer so it was fortunate we weren’t pregnant because the chemo destroys your ovaries and eggs.
“Knowing we have to wait at least five years to try for a baby is really hard to deal with and now my chances of having children will be even less because I can’t get the treatment.”
Because she is due to start her treatment within days, Rebecca said she had ‘no choice’ but to give up her battle and accept the CCG’s offer to freeze her eggs only.
Individual NHS clinical commissioning groups make the final decision about who can have NHS-funded IVF in their local area, following National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidlines.
A spokesman for Coastal West Sussex CCG said: “We understand the difficult situation that Mrs Sloly is facing and we appreciate that this is very upsetting. As part of her treatment Mrs Sloly is able to have her eggs harvested and stored on the NHS.
“National guidelines do not allow a single episode of treatment to be part funded by both the NHS and the patient.
“However, two distinct treatments could take place – the NHS treatment first, and then after that any private treatment as Mrs Sloly’s eggs are hers to determine what she would like to do with them.
“We would encourage her to speak to her GP to understand the options available to her, and we wish her well for her ongoing treatment.”
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