It’s a good job I’m a morning person because on Thursday at 6.20am I was sitting on the sofa of ITV’s Good Morning Britain with Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway. They were looking radiant in blue (Susanna) and orange (Kate). Whereas I made the televisual mistake of wearing a black jumpsuit which looked a bit like a sack on screen. At least we didn’t clash.
I had been asked on the show to talk about the inequality of IVF on the NHS. This week The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have launched a consultation around their recommendation that all women in the UK under the age of 40 should be entitled to three rounds of free IVF. Despite making the recommendation several years ago, health commissioners are still not following the guidance. What you get depends on where you live and, if you haven’t already, I urge you to sign up to the IVFyes campaign to end the postcode lottery.
After I agreed to go on the show, a producer at ITV rang me and asked whether I would mind ‘debating’ the issue (i.e. they were going to pit me against someone who didn’t believe that IVF should be available on the NHS at all). They told me my opponent was a woman called Caroline Farrow, a spokesperson for Catholic Voices. I googled and discovered she’d done this debate before. Her arguments included the fact that infertility is not life-threatening like cancer and it can result in the destruction of unwanted embryos. I have to admit I was nervous. I’m not good in an argument. I didn’t want to let my fellow infertiles down.
In the event the so-called debate only lasted a few minutes. There was hardly time to get started because they had to move onto One Direction hitting the Times Rich list for the first year. No sooner had they called cut and they were setting up One Direction musical toothbrushes on the table. Besides Caroline was actually rather nice even though I didn’t agree with her. When we were leaving the studio she said – almost as if in apology for her opinion – ‘I’m really sorry how hard things have been for you.’ I replied cheerily: ‘That’s alright. Life is hard for everyone. This is just my hard.’ Later she tweeted that she’d enjoyed meeting me and was going to read my book, and a few of her followers started following me!
The thing is Caroline is a mother. She’s got four beautiful children. There’s a picture of them on her twitter page. And although she openly admitted she’d had no problems conceiving, I don’t believe that anybody who has experienced the love of a mother could fail to be empathetic to the illness of infertility. Because it is an illness and therefore should be treated fairly on the NHS. And although I would never compare it to cancer, I do know that infertility feels like your heart is breaking and if that’s not life-threatening then I don’t know what is.
So for this week’s question – what treatments do you think should be available for infertility on the NHS?
And PS. If you want to watch the interview there are a few days left on catch up. Click here (and scroll to 19 minutes in).