An Eastbourne woman left ‘heartbroken’ after being told she wasn’t eligible for IVF treatment on the NHS is calling for change.
Lauren Winchester has called the system a “postcode lottery” as her dream of having a baby was dismissed because her husband has a child from a previous relationship.
Now she is trying to fundraise the thousands of pounds worth of money herself, with time running out to conceive.
She said, “It’s heartbreaking to know we are on a time limit. I need treatment at the beginning of next year before it is too late and I will never start the family I am desperate for.”
Lauren has Stage 4 endometriosis, and was told earlier this year she has a less than one per cent chance of conceiving naturally due to a low ovarian reserve.
The 25-year-old said, “The doctor said my results were what he’d expect from a 40-year-old woman and said I need to get IVF as soon as possible.”
But the family was dealt another blow when they were told she would not be eligible for the expensive treatment on the NHS.
Lauren, of Dursley Road, said, “It was devastating, I was signed off work for a month, I almost went through a grieving process. I was going through all the emotions.
“It is my dream to be a mother. I’m trying to do all I can to achieve my goal. I don’t want to let it slip by, it’s something I have always wanted.”
The McDonald’s staff member, who says they simply cannot afford the around £11,000 for treatment, added, “I would love to adopt and go down that route, it’s an option but I don’t want to give up on having my own just yet.”
Lauren has been with her husband Andrew for nine years and married since June 2018. They have been trying for a baby for five years.
She said it was upsetting to find out if she lived somewhere else things would be different.
“If I was living in Scotland or Wales I would be eligible regardless of whether I had children,” she said, “It’s almost a post code lottery. Learning that was quite hard to deal with.”
She is campaigning for change, calling for a panel to make these decisions on a case by case basis.
“I have set up I have set up a government petition and contacted [Eastbourne MP] Stephen Lloyd,” she said, “It will probably be too late for me but there should be a fairer system in place, based on people’s medical needs.”
According to the NHS website, the current system depends on the local clinical commissioning group (CCG), which may have different criteria for accepting people for IVF at different places around the country.
In the meantime Lauren is crowdfunding £5,000 towards the treatment, and says friends and family have been very generous.
“It means a lot. There’s so many important charities and people have found room in their hearts to help me.”
Her Go Fund Me page is available here.
Eastbourne MP reacts to situation
Stephen Lloyd says he is looking into the issue. He said, “This is obviously very upsetting news for Lauren, as I can appreciate just how much she would love to have a baby with her husband.
“This is exactly why the extraordinary invention of IVF has made such a positive difference in many thousands of lives since its invention.
“I am not aware whether the local decision was entirely down to our own CCG or driven by Government rules framed by the Department of Health.
“I will be writing to the chief executive of our CCG seeking clarification for women in Mrs Winchester’s situation, once I have that it will be clearer about next steps. Meanwhile, it will be a pleasure to meet the couple so they can tell me of their campaign plans.”