Sinn Féin in Derry has called for face-to-face counselling services in the west for couples going through IVF treatment here.
The call comes after several representatives from the party met with regional manager of the IVF campaign Sharon Davidson to discuss fertility services and treatment across the north.
Speaking to the Journal after the meeting, Sinn Féin member Maeve McLaughlin said:
“At present couples in north struggling with fertility are only entitled to one cycle of treatment - despite guidance recommending three. It is estimated that this affects 2,400 people each year. Couples are then forced to pay for treatment which for many is not an option.
“We welcome the Health Minister’s commitment to move to three cycles and want to see this implemented.”
Ms McLaughlin added: “There is also another issue in Western Trust area in that there is no face-to-face counselling service and couples often struggling with this issue are subject to telephone counselling service. This too needs to be rectified as speedily as possible.”
The Fertility Fairness organisation has warned that at present IVF provision in Northern Ireland is far below that of Britain, stating: “Here, one cycle is offered to patients. Although sometimes described as a ‘full’ cycle of IVF, patients in Northern Ireland are only able to access funding for one episode of ovarian stimulation and the transfer of one fresh and one frozen embryo. This contrasts sharply with national guidelines, which define a full cycle as one episode of ovarian stimulation and the transfer of any resultant fresh and frozen embryo(s).”
The organisation points out however that unlike in Britain, couples in the north who have children living with them have equitable access to services.