Stacey and Ian hoping for IVF lifeline on NHS
A COUPLE desperate for a baby are facing a race-against-time to become the first in North Staffordshire to win NHS funding for fertility treatment.
Stacey Shutt and Ian Pullen faced having to raise £3,000 for private IVF treatment because NHS North Staffordshire refused to provide the treatment for free.
But a funding U-turn by the health trust has now provided hope for the couple.
NHS North Staffordshire has set aside £400,000 to pay for an estimated 66 couples to have one cycle of IVF by next March.
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It has changed the rules after saying undisclosed new evidence had emerged on the cost effectiveness of IVF.
But warehouse worker Stacey, aged 25, and 32-year-old window cleaner Ian, of Newcastle, have already planned to have private IVF treatment at a clinic in the North-East in August.
And for that to go ahead, she must start medication to help her chances of conceiving by next month.
Stacey said: "This turnabout by the health trust could change everything for us and if we qualify we are prepared to hang on as it isn't easy scraping all this money together. After all we have gone through trying for a baby, we couldn't believe it when we read about the U-turn in The Sentinel.
"We went straight to our GP to ask for a referral on the NHS. Strangely, he wasn't yet aware that funding has now been made available so he is to seek clarification in our case.
"With my preparations for the private treatment needing to start any week now, we have to know fast where we stand.
"But it would be brilliant if we were to make a bit of history by being the first couple from Newcastle to have a test tube baby on the NHS.
"It's so ridiculous we have been denied this because we don't live in Stoke-on-Trent. I have a friend who lives in Abbey Hulton and she has already got funding from her health trust."
The couple have been trying to start a family for four-and-a-half years and have already forked out £500 for tests at the London Women's Clinic, in Darlington.
They are determined to have a baby of their own because Ian has a nine-year-old daughter by a previous relationship.
He said: "With me and Stacey trying and trying without success to have a baby, it makes it difficult to talk about my daughter and it makes Stacey feel even more that she is missing out.
"I couldn't believe it when the GP said we would not get funding because we live here and not Stoke-on-Trent especially when he have both paid taxes all our lives."
The rule change brings NHS North Staffordshire into line with NHS IVF treatments in Stoke-on-Trent.
Women in North Staffordshire will qualify for one cycle of IVF if they meet an approved criteria.