Do you think there should be a cut-off age after which people shouldn’t have children? Or is it fine at any age at which it is remotely feasible? And is it right that we ponder this subject so much when it comes to women having children later in life, and yet barely raise an eyebrow when Mick Jagger has a baby at the ripe old age of 73?
The subject has been back in the news again after Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, former director of the Serpentine Galleries, became a mother at 64. It isn’t clear how she had her daughter, although we can be sure she didn’t use her eggs and that she may well have paid for a surrogate to carry the baby too. I know we all feel and act younger than our grandparents may have done at the same age, but she will be 80 by the time her daughter is 16 – and I can’t help wondering what it would be like for a 16 year old to have an 80 year old mother? Or what it would be like to be responsible for a teenager when you were 80?
Of course, the other problem with news stories like this is that they muddy the waters when it comes to NHS funding for fertility treatment, as many people seem to assume that it is the NHS which is footing the bill for older women to try to have babies. In fact, in most areas there is limited funding for women up to the age of 39, and often nothing at all beyond that. At most women of 40-42 will get one cycle, but if you are older, there is no likelihood of funded treatment.
If there are plans afoot in your local area to reduce the number of IVF cycles offered to those who need treatment, or even to cut treatment altogether, you may be left wondering whether there is anything you can do to make a difference. Although there are sometimes public consultations when funding is due to be cut or reduced, it can be tough to have the confidence to put forward your point of view – and sometimes it may start to seem as if there is very little point anyway as people wonder whether those who commission treatment are really listening.
This excellent piece from Bionews written by Richard Clothier tells how he fought back against planned cuts to fertility treatment in his local area. It’s a great read – and you may be surprised by the outcome.
The group who commission health services in Bedfordshire are consulting on whether to cut NHS fertility services entirely. It’s really important that patients should complete the consultation questionnaire if you want to help to try to stop this happening. The questionnaire needs to be filled in before July 24 and you can find the consultation here https://www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk/page/?id=4958
If you live in the area, do write to your local MP too and ask them to help prevent fertility care being cut altogether in the area. There is more information on the Fertility Fairness website and relevant contact details are
Richard Fuller MP (Bedford) email@example.com
Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP (North East Bedfordshire) firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Nadine Dorries MP (Mid Bedfordshire) firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Selous MP (South West Bedfordshire) email@example.com
The campaign group Fertility Fairness is encouraging fertility patients to ask their MPs to attend a Parliamentary Reception in March to help them to become more aware of the realities of the postcode lottery when it comes to fertility treatment.
The reception is titled “Fertility Services: The Picture Doesn’t Have to Look Like This”, and will take place on March 25. It has been sponsored by Ian Austin MP.
The event will examine the progress that has been made in the last year towards commissioning the three full cycles of IVF recommended by NICE, and will present a picture of the current situation. There will be examples of best practice to show how the system could work successfully.
Fertility Fairness would appreciate as many patients as possible writing to MPs to ask them to attend – you can find details here
If you want to know more about NHS funding for fertility treatment, there’s a fabulous new website which can tell you everything you want to know! The new Fertility Fairness website has details of funding policies across the UK – and tells you what you can do to help the campaign to put an end to the postcode lottery and get fair access to treatment for everyone.
Just a quick reminder that there’s still time to have your say on fertility funding in mid-Essex where the CCG are proposing to cut fertility treatment to all fertility patients – and only offer it to people who are having cancer treatment and HIV positive men. Why those two groups? You may well ask… It seems that both were mentioned in last year’s update of the NICE fertility guidelines – but that was only because the way these groups should be offered treatment needed updating, not because they were being singled out in any other way.
One of the fertility clinics in the area, Simply Fertility, have come out and expressed their concern about this – and you can do that too. Have a look at the Simply Fertility blog for more details, or go straight to the consultation here and fill in the survey by following the link. It doesn’t take long, and your views will be appreciated.