Clinic Supports Newspaper Fertility Treatment Campaign

Issue Date: 24 January 2005

Midland Fertility Services (MFS) is supporting The Birmingham Post’s campaign for universal funded fertility treatment.

From 24-28 January the newspaper is offering readers the opportunity to apply for funding for one of four fertility investigations or treatments at MFS. It is the first such newspaper initiative in the UK.

The recipients of the funding will be decided by Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of MFS, Heidi Birch, director of nursing services, Su Barlow, laboratory director, and an independent fertility consultant. Their decision will be based on current common criteria for suitability for fertility treatment.

MFS is the Midlands’ longest established independent fertility clinic. It was approached by The Birmingham Post to provide the expertise for the ‘Funded Fertility Treatment For All’ campaign, during the run-up to the deadline for Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts to adopt the NICE guidelines on fertility treatment by 1 April 2005.

“MFS supports The Birmingham Post’s objective to campaign for universal funded fertility treatment, as recommended by NICE, and supports its campaign to educate, inform and reassure people about fertility treatment,” said Dr Lockwood.

“The campaign will discuss the current accessibility and funding of fertility treatment in the UK, profile patients’ experiences and present statistics and facts regarding treatment success rates and new developments.

“About one in six couples have problems conceiving and currently only 30% of the Midlands’ couples who require fertility treatment have ready access NHS funding, with the number of treatment cycles offered and the length of the waiting lists dependent on where they live.

“The Birmingham Post is providing the opportunity for a funded fertility investigation or treatment which gives everyone who needs it an equal chance to benefit from the same high quality choices currently available only to privately-funded patients and to some people on the NHS.”

Said Fiona Alexander, editor of The Birmingham Post:

“We had no idea how many people are affected, or could be affected, by fertility problems. It shocked us. And these statistics will only increase as our lifestyles continue to change over the coming years.

“It is also our duty as a newspaper to inform and to educate, even if the subject is unbelievably still considered taboo in some circles. Most people can name friends, family, acquaintances or work colleagues who have had help conceiving a child and who are, quite rightly, proud of it.

“We believe every couple should have the opportunity to receive one fertility cycle on the NHS and would urge all PCTs to start doing so before the Government’s April deadline. Why should men and women have to pay for treatment to have a baby?

“With that in mind we decided to put our money where our mouth is and are to fund four treatments and investigations to four successful candidates selected by fertility experts.”

People can enter by completing the form in The Birmingham Post from 24-28 January or by downloading it from www.icbirmingham.co.uk/post/fertility or www.midlandfertility.com. All entries must be received by Friday 25 February 2005. There is no charge for submitting an entry.

MFS was established in 1987 and is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Based in Aldridge and Wolverhampton, it treats both private and NHS patients. In 2002 the UK’s first ‘frozen egg’ baby was born following treatment at MFS, using the baby’s mother’s own egg and giving hope to young cancer patients worried about fertility preservation. In 2004 MFS treated its 11,000th patient and in November, celebrated the birth of the 3,000th baby born after treatment at the clinic.

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