The NHS and Oxford Fertility Unit

One of the things that hubby and I had expected during our infertility journey was to meet fertility experts. These experts would analyse us, make recommendations and generally guide us in the right direction for our particular situation. Oh how wrong we were.

Oxford Fertitlity UnitWe were referred to the Oxford Fertility Unit and after attending their ‘Introduction Evening’ (which I do recommend you attend) we had an appointment with an ‘expert’. This was quite a moment for us as we felt we were finally seeing someone who could actually give us some solid advice and suggestions, someone who knew our situation and was familiar with all the options open to us. We took the afternoon off work and drove to Oxford (about a half hour drive).

When we arrived we went to the wrong department. I say wrong, it was labelled Fertility Unit so….that’s were we went. After waiting for about half an hour they finally worked out that we were supposed to be somewhere else, a kind of out-patient fertility area on the ground floor. So we waited there instead. After about another hour, we were finally taken through to see our ‘expert’ and as we held hands, followed her to the office and sat down with expectant and nervous smiles. This is basically how the conversation went;

‘Hello….Ms Elliott?’

‘Yes that’s me’.

She scanned through my paperwork…
‘Ok. Well I’ve seen your notes and we would recommend that you start IVF as soon as possible.’

‘What?’ Really?’

‘Yes. We recommend 3 cycles and you could start very soon. Would you like to make an appointment?’

‘Errrrr…well isn’t there anything else to discuss first, like… anything else we can try, or should be doing?’

‘IVF is what we would recommend for you.’

‘Er ok, well do we get this on the NHS?’

‘No, I see you have a daughter by your first marriage so that means you won’t get NHS funding.’

‘Right, well I don’t want to commit to another appointment right now, so I’ll guess I’ll be in touch. Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye Ms Elliott’

Suffice to say I complained about this. My hubby and I had had the wind truly knocked from our sails, we were quite heartbroken by the coldness, the emotionless, basic conversation that had just taken place. We were after someone to help us but we just got a statement of ‘IVF!’. I wanted to be told what I should be eating, what I should avoid eating, what products I should avoid using, what exercises are good for my ovaries, what positions we should try…. I NEEDED ADVICE AND GUIDANCE!!!!

I had also had the lack of NHS funding confirmed and that was one hell of a frustrating pill to swallow! My research had brought to light the Postcode Lottery for NHS funding, in that it depends on your location and thereby your Local Primary Care Trust and how they chose to handle their costs. I remember reading that if a family lived in certain boroughs of London, they could have 4 children and still get 3 attempts at NHS fertility treatment….fully paid. And yet I couldn’t get one attempt! This is an ongoing issue which I know is being addressed but unfortunately not in time for me. Plus after you’ve paid for one private IVF treatment, you can NEVER have assistance from the NHS in the future, regardless of any changes to your financial situation. To find out more on NHS funding click here

Oxford did have us back and we did see a proper doctor/expert who was lovely. He explained why we had been recommended to have IVF (as we had been diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertilty’) and he did indeed take time with us. Our choice to go to another clinic was mainly based on distance and cost, Oxford was still a consideration despite the first upsetting appointment.

I feel I must say that I am not in any way angry with Oxford or think that they are not a good place to go. What I am trying to illustrate is that nothing is ever as you expect it to be, and sometimes you don’t even have any expectations. Clinics are a business at the end of the day. I could have tests for the next 5 years, eat different healthy diets and try different vitamins but IVF is a solid step forward to an end result, and that is why it was recommended to us. So we could get a result. A baby.

On the other hand….holistic approaches are successful in gaining successes too and I will cover that in my next post. Including the wonderful Zita West…

Watch this space…

Love to all xxxx

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