‘Saying it’ll be worth the wait is not helpful, it’s the most annoying thing to hear’: NHS IVF treatment begins again after lockdown pause -…

IVF treatments funded by the NHS have begun again for Trafford patients after lockdown brought everything to a halt.

Trafford CCG offers IVF treatment for couples, with one provider CARE Fertility offering both private and NHS cycles.

On the NHS, couples are currently able to have three fully funded cycles of IVF in order to get pregnant.

Jess Garside, 29, and her partner Daniel Shuttleworth, 36, live in Bury and had their miracle baby Rebecca during lockdown back in April. Baby Rebecca is now almost six weeks old.

The couple had two rounds of IVF at CARE Fertility funded by the NHS. The first was unsuccessful, but the second resulted in a successful pregnancy and two frozen embryos for the future.

Jess and Daniel experienced extremely low sperm count as a barrier to their pregnancy, something they wanted to highlight to raise awareness of male infertility.

Jess is full of praise for CAREs service, but considers herself one of the lucky ones who got pregnant before lockdown really kicked in.

She said: A lot of places dont offer what the CCG does, CARE were fantastic and settled my mind. We were referred in November 2018, had our first appointment in January 2019 and began our first round in March 2019.

I was expecting the wait to be much longer, I couldnt believe how quick it was. But I know lots of ladies have been left waiting for months, even up to a year.

But Im on groups watching ladies have their treatments cancelled, some have been waiting for four months and have lost a cycle. When youre preparing for a cycle, you count down the days and when thats just stopped I cant Im almost in tears thinking about it.

One of Jesss friends had her IVF cycle stopped because of lockdown.

Jess said: She was devastated and there was nothing I could do to help her. I felt so guilty, theres definitely a pregnancy guilt seeing everybody still on their journey. I couldnt offer advice.

I found it difficult watching people lose time, and time means so much in this process.

There are people with drugs in their fridges ready for cycles. They have to stare at those drugs in their fridge everyday waiting for the cycle to start. Its hard.

I want to offer help and say itll be worth the wait but thats not helpful, its the most annoying thing to hear when youre waiting.

Jess knows that the impact of lockdown will stretch on for a while and said the situation of clinics reopening is not uniform across the board.

She said: With some clinics, couples are already starting their cycles again, but it depends which clinic youre at. Its not a blanket everythings open now.

This delay is going to have an impact for a while now and nobody knows whats going to happen.

There are a lot of ladies in the position that they had timed things perfectly before their 40th birthday, and after that cycles can be stopped. These women dont know whether theyll get that chance now that theyve been preparing for for months.

Jess and Daniel had their baby Rebecca in a hospital during lockdown. As Rebecca is their first, Jess doesnt have anything to compare her experiences to but said it is a funny time.

She added: I ended up having an emergency cesarean, which was not what I expected, but the hospital felt like a corona-free bubble.

Every time I felt things were getting hard, if someone told me a year ago Id be having a baby, during a pandemic, Id still say yes to that. I have no reason to moan.

We had a lot of laughs, we bonded a lot. I thought IVF would be this very serious process, and there were times when I didnt want to be carrying on with the injections, it can all get a bit constant with scans and headaches but Daniel would be messing around, doing press ups in the clinic and making me laugh. It feels very positive and I would do it again.

While Jess and Daniel had a positive experience, Jess said there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the issue of IVF.

She said: Its very sad people dont talk about it. It was very hard going through it at the time and not being open about it. It was a personal choice of mine not to talk about it. A lot of people dont talk until theres a positive outcome, I am one of them. But I received a lot of support that I didnt think Id get.

The first cycle was difficult mentally and physically. I had to get past the difficulty of injecting myself, it is odd to get your head around and when the first cycle failed, it was heartbreaking. But I was lucky to know I was going again.

And I know its a personal choice, but Id say if the desire is there, people dont have to keep it to themselves. Things are changing, that stigma mask is starting to slip. There are lots of Facebook groups and its becoming a lot easier to talk, which makes it so much easier to deal with.

Dr Manish Prasad, associate clinical director for quality at NHS Trafford CCG, said: Starting a family can bring so much joy to peoples lives and we very much want to support people living in Trafford who choose fertility treatment in order to do this. This is one reason we recently commissioned a wider choice of providers for patients in the borough.

Clearly, the coronavirus pandemic meant an unavoidable knock-on impact for non-urgent services and we deeply sympathise with anyone whose IVF treatment was temporarily paused as a result. Now, we are gradually increasing these services but only where that can be done safely.

CARE Fertility announced on Twitter for Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group patients that NHS IVF treatments are now resuming.

They said: We are delighted to share the news that all of our main clinics are now open and resuming treatments.

Thank you for your understanding, support and all your lovely messages during COVID-19. We are helping each other through this challenge and we will continue to support you as we move forwards in your fertility journey together.

We have a long and proud history of working with the NHS approximately 30 per cent of our activity is NHS related, which equates to around 300 patients a year.

We understand that the halt in fertility services was incredibly difficult for many of our patients and it is wonderful that we are now fully open and available to help any patient with their fertility journey.

Qualification for NHS funding can vary according to which CCG a patient falls under and the CARE Fertility Manchester team say they are ready and able to help with any queries, regarding funding and access to services, that patients may have.

The Manchester clinic is also offering video consultations too during the lockdown.

For more information about the services CARE provide, visit their website here or call 08005642270.

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'Saying it'll be worth the wait is not helpful, it's the most annoying thing to hear': NHS IVF treatment begins again after lockdown pause -...

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