‘The cost of living crisis is ruining my chances of having a child’

Natasha Kendall has been trying for a baby for years. After two miscarriages from natural pregnancies, she received an IVF cycle in the NHS. In Exeter, where Mrs Kendall lives, she is only entitled to one cycle.

Ms Kendall, 33, who works for the NHS, and her partner Andy Whedon, 35, had no choice but to turn to private fertility treatment which they say cost more than £5,000 between consultations, medication and the cycle itself. This also ended in a miscarriage – and the couple are gearing up for another attempt.

“We want to keep trying, but it’s about finding that money,” Ms Kendall said. “It will take a few months for the funds to come together. Luckily we were able to freeze an embryo from the last cycle but if that doesn’t work that’s another £6,000.”

ABC IVF Clinic’s Praful Nargund said the regional disparity was due to flaws in the current NHS funding model for IVF.

“The current model means that each individual clinical mission group will determine the level of support it provides to women and couples who need fertility treatment,” he explained. “Some CCGs offer the recommended three treatment cycles, while others offer only one cycle or no cycles at all.”

Regional disparities forced patients like Ms Kendall to seek expensive private treatment, which meant families “were overpriced for parenting because of where they lived,” added Mr Nargund.

Women seeking IVF told The Telegraph the cost typically reaches £10,000, with no guarantee of success. Some clinics operate a ‘payback’ system where patients only pay if they are successful, but they can charge up to £20,000.

With inflation, fuel prices and energy bills soaring, people like Ms. Kendall are finding it increasingly difficult to afford more cycles. She added that she and her partner have already burned some of their inheritance to afford treatment and are on the brink of debt.

Many turn to loans and credit cards to fund treatment, in part because couples need the money fast to get treatment as soon as possible.

“With the cost of living rising, we’re struggling to figure out how we’re going to pay for our next cycle,” she said. “The rise in petrol prices has already put a massive strain on our finances. We will likely need to borrow for another cycle.

“We say no to many life events. We haven’t been abroad since 2018 and we don’t do normal things like going out to eat at the weekend.”

ABC IVF has urged the Government to put a price cap on how much the NHS can be charged for IVF provision. Mr Nargrund said: “We believe that with the right will, three cycles of NHS-funded IVF could be offered across the country without breaking current budgets.”

“Our savings are gone”

Lorna Watkins, 31, from South Wales, has already spent more than £30,000 on IVF treatments, exhausting her life savings. She and her husband now live “paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

“If this round isn’t successful, we simply can’t afford another,” added Ms. Watkins. “The savings we worked so hard to have are gone and we’re no closer to having the family we so desperately want.”

IVF treatment is often an emotionally draining process. Gwenda Burns, of charity Fertility Network UK, said 90 per cent of people undergoing fertility treatment are depressed, while 42 per cent reported having suicidal thoughts.

“Fertility treatments should be adequately funded. It’s a disease that, like any other clinical condition, deserves the help of the NHS,” she said.

“If not, this lack of help combined with the current cost of living crisis will result in some people being denied the chance to become parents. This is a sad legacy for the country that pioneered IVF.” ‘The cost of living crisis is ruining my chances of having a child’

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