Welsh Liberal Democrats would be perfectly justified in regarding this article in today’s Western Mail regarding IVF treatments in Wales as a vindication of the many warnings they have been giving to the Welsh Government for the past year or so.
The paper says that increasing numbers of Welsh women trying to become mothers are being forced to travel to England for IVF. They add that NHS-based IVF services in South Wales have been buckling under high demand since the Welsh Government last year stopped a contract for the private London Women’s Clinic in Swansea to provide NHS-funded treatment for patients in South and West Wales. Since then, there has been a delay between the end of the service provided by the private sector and the creation of a new NHS service in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board:
The pressure on Welsh fertility services has been highlighted by figures showing at least 150 women went for treatment from South Wales to England in the first six months of the 2012-13 financial year.
In comparison, two years ago just two women were referred for treatment from the Cardiff and Vale Health Board to England throughout 2010/11.
The statistics, which were released by Health Minister Lesley Griffiths following a written question on the issue, show that the completion of all 150 cycles taking place over the border in the last six months is expected to cost £550,000.
Peter Bowen-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women’s Clinic, said: “I think it’s absolutely dreadful that patients should have to be sent miles to have treatment, passing IVF centres on the way. People are being denied NHS treatment in Wales.
“It’s the patients that are losing out and that’s what we care about. From a financial point of view, it makes no difference to us because we were offering it at cost price for the NHS and we could manage it quite easily and we were already set up to do it.”
In August, it emerged that IVF Wales had contacted patients on the waiting list advising them to consider going over the border to Bristol rather than wait for treatment in Wales – as there was no guarantee of being seen any time soon.
Some couples were told if they did decide to go over the border they were much more likely to get treatment before the end of the financial year.