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A FERTILITY clinic has branded plans to axe IVF treatment for people struggling to conceive as “outrageous”.

The NHS-funded procedure could be stopped or reduced as part of cost-cutting proposals put forward by West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

But the Herts and Essex Fertility Centre, based in Waltham Cross, say the plans are unfair.

Although they are a private clinic, they believe fertility treatment should be open to anyone who needs it.

Sally Day, the marketing manager, said: “We don’t like the Postcode Lottery that these proposals are creating.

“It’s a medical condition just like any other, and we believe, completely and utterly, everyone should have equal access.

“This is outrageous. It is going to force people to have treatment abroad, but it’s a medical illness just like any other, and it should be recognised as that.”

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines state those struggling to conceive and single-sex families should have access to free IVF.

The clinic's medical director, Michael Ah-Moye, called the situation "very unfortunate".

He added: "Quite wrongly, infertility is viewed by many as not a disease and therefore given low priority as far as funding is concerned.

"What is not fully understood is the psychological effect infertility has on many couples such as depression and anxiety and for this reason, along with many others, we would argue that it is a disease.

"We would advise that CCGs should think very carefully before withdrawing funding.

"We believe that everyone should have an equal right to start a family."

But NHS bosses say the CCG is facing a number of challenges, and these proposals will make the “best use of the money available” while avoiding preventable illnesses.

A statement said: “The number of people who need health service support is increasing, and many people are living longer, quite often with complex conditions.”

West Essex CCG chairman Dr Rob Gerlis said: “Wherever possible we are looking to make savings that won’t affect the quality of patient care.

“We are working more closely with our partners in the local health and social care system to avoid duplication and reduce administration costs.”

West Essex CCG clinical director Dr Christine Moss said: “We accept our proposals around changes to IVF and specialist fertility treatments have the potential to make a significant difference to some lives.”

“But we have to be realistic about what we can afford.”

Go to www.westessexccg.nhs.uk for more or to sign the survey by September 14.

Have you had IVF and do you want to speak up? E-mail thomas.barnes@london.newsquest.co.uk