England’s first non-profit fertility clinic is expected to open in central London in late 2021, offering treatment to women who cannot access it for free on the NHS.
It is a project of the British Pregnancy Counseling Service (BPAS), an organization founded in 1968 to help women access abortions, which were hard to come by on the NHS at the time.
Women under the age of 40 should be offered three cycles of IVF on the NHS if they have been trying to get pregnant for at least two years, and one cycle if they are between the ages of 40 and 42, according to the National Institute for Excellence in Health and Care. guidelines. But this is rarely the case in reality.
IVF ‘zip code lottery’ leaves “devastating gaps” in provision, according to 2020 BPAS research, with some lead clinical groups overseeing local funding and restricting access to fertility treatment for arbitrary reasons, like the marital status of people.
Single women and female same-sex couples face particularly significant financial hurdles in accessing treatment, the charity says, as they often have to pay for artificial insemination to determine their infertility in order to qualify for IVF. Meanwhile, many women struggle to pay for IVF privately.
“By running the clinic on a non-profit basis, we can offer much lower costs, because we are not adding margins to our work,” Marta Jansa Pérez, director of embryology at BPAS, told Positive News.
The clinic will have a transparent pricing structure, he explained, and patients will be aware of how much their treatment will cost up front. Only evidence-based treatments will be offered, unlike some private clinics that, he said, offer expensive supplements that have little proven effect.
“We will make sure that our website and our information are tailored to all kinds of ethnic origins, orientations and sexual identities, because that is something that has been perceived as deficient in some of the provisions that currently exist,” he said.
The clinic will not establish eligibility criteria for treatment, although patients will receive “realistic expectations of their chances of becoming pregnant,” explained Jansa Pérez. In addition to fertility treatment, the clinic will offer fertility preservation services for people who wish to preserve their eggs or embryos for personal or medical reasons.
I think I’ll cry the day we open, it’s really been a long time coming.
Jansa Pérez underwent fertility treatment “many years ago” and her children are now adults. “But it’s something I’ve never forgotten, because it took over my life, it’s an emotional roller coaster,” he said.
“I think anyone who has been through it will agree that it has an impact on their mental health and emotional state. As a professional, it helps me understand what people are going through and how difficult the fertility treatment journey can be. “
For now, she feels excited. “I think I will cry the day we open, because it really has been a long time with the pandemic. It has been a challenge to get things going. What I want to do is create embryos and make sure that people have a chance to get pregnant. “
Lead Image: Camylla Battani