NHS Trust Is Denying Single Women IVF Treatment Because They Place “Greater Burden On Society”
A new regional NHS policy that bans single women from accessing IVF because they place a "burden on society" has been described by critics as "shockingly outdated" and "demeaning", infuriating women all over the country.
So how's the weather in Gilead these days?
In a document seen by The Sunday Times, NHS South East London, a partnership of six clinical commissioning groups and five hospital trusts covering up to 2 million patients, has said women who do not have a partner must pay thousands to access fertility treatment privately, claiming "denial of fertility treatment has a limited impact on a woman's life satisfaction."
Current national NHS guidelines state that all women under the age of 43 who have been trying to get pregnant for two years can be offered IVF, which costs around £3,500 per cycle, and make no reference to relationship status. However this new policy makes single women in NHS South East London ineligible based on findings that "a sole woman is unable to bring out the best outcomes for the child."
It also states that "single mothers are generally poorer; they are likely to have greater support needs compared to two-parent couples, thereby playing a greater burden on society in general" and so women must be in a "stable relationship" before undergoing treatment.
Currently the policy will affect women in Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, with details emerging after a single woman contacted Matthew Pennycook, Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, to say she had been denied the treatment by her GP.
Inferring that women who have reached their late thirties without finding a suitable partner face childlessness, people are quite rightly kicking off in response to the discrimination, with Matthew himself saying the ban was based on "subjective and obsolete views of single mothers."
People have taken to Twitter to lash out about the new policy, with one single mother saying: "I am absolutely appalled that in this day that people still hold these views and single parents are still being discriminated against. I am proud to be a single parent and have solely raised my 21yr old son on my own right. No single parent is a burden on society."
Iam absolutely appalled that in this day that people still hold these views and single parents are still being discriminated against. Iam proud to be a single parent and have solely raised my 21yr old son on my own. No single parent is a burden on society.https://t.co/l0FyPPFdTC
- Karen Hicks (@Kazmataz77) August 19, 2019
"IVF slowly being taken off the NHS for all, 4 counties 'leading the way' and now another has removed IVF for single women for barbaric reasoning. The rationale for both is astounding and I'm very sad that the UK seems to be taking 10 steps backwards every day," said another.
A third tweeted they were "disgusted to see that the South London NHS trust is denying single mothers IVF as they "place a greater burden on society in general." Rubbish. My mum was single to 3, they're all working and I'm doing a Doctorate and teaching. We give heaps back to society. Outdated!"
IVF slowly being taken off the NHS for all, 4 counties 'leading the way' and now another has removed IVF for single women for barbaric reasoning. The rationale for both is astounding and I'm very sad that the U.K. seems to be taking 10 steps backwards every day. #IVF
- Amber Izzo (@amberinateacup) August 19, 2019
Disgusted to see that the South London NHS trust is denying single mothers IVF as they "place a greater burden on society in general." Rubbish. My mum was single mum to 3, they're all working and I'm doing a Doctorate and teaching. We give heaps back to society. Outdated!
- Haili Hughes (@HughesHaili) August 19, 2019
However in support of the new rules, The Telegraph's Celia Walden argued in an article that "it's hard for me to imagine anyone deliberately setting out to do something as tough as raising a child alone - although I know some do, and NHS south-east London will doubtless have statistics backing up their controversial decision."
She goes on to say that if it is every woman's right to be a mother, "single or married, gay, straight or identifying as any one of the orientations laid out in a sexual smorgasbord for us by the PC brigade" then she "should be allowed to have the breasts I want - and Angelina Jolie's nose."
Err, not really the same thing there Celia.The news comes as UK fertility treatments are on the rise, counting around 75,000 in 2017 up from 60,000 in 2011. However the percentage of these funded by the NHS in England is at its lowest rate ever, falling from 40.3 per cent in 2011 to 35 per cent in 2017.
A spokesperson for NHS South East London Commissioning Alliance told PRETTY 52 that: "Infertility is a condition that requires investigation, management and treatment in accordance with national guidance. As part of the provision of prevention, treatment and care, south east London commissioners are committed to ensuring that access to NHS fertility services is provided fairly and consistently within the limited resources we have available.
"South east London CCGs follow the criteria for IVF treatment set out in the South East London Treatment Access Policy (TAP) and at present, routine funding of assisted conception for single women is not available. All women have access to routine gynaecology services for investigation and management of fertility problems. The treatment access policy only applies to assisted conception.
"We review and update the treatment access policy on a regular basis and we will prioritise a rapid review of the policy in relation to single women.
"All patients can request special consideration for a procedure or treatment which falls outside normal contracts and the treatment access policy through the south east London individual funding request process (IFR). This means that if a single woman is facing exceptional circumstances, she can apply for IVF funding through her GP or the consultant looking after her. All GPs and consultants are aware of the IFR."
We wonder what they'll tell us we can't do with our own bodies next?
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