Couples who run out of attempts to conceive via the slashed NHS fertility service will now be able to walk along the corridor at the Countess of Chester Hospital to a private company offering the same treatment at a price.
Fertility experts IVI have launched a new clinic within the hospital in a £4million investment. The new IVI Cheshire clinic has created more than 30 jobs and the firm says it brings ‘pioneering assisted fertility techniques’ to Cheshire residents.
But the launch comes after West, East and South Cheshire and Vale Royal clinical commissioning groups cut the number of NHS-funded IVF cycles from three to one, with some clinical exceptions, and introduced stricter eligibility criteria for access.
For example, couples will be forced to try and conceive for three years instead of two before they are considered eligible for treatment.
There are further restrictions around body mass index (BMI) and smoking status for male partners – restrictions previously only applied to the female.
City MP Mr Matheson said: “Anybody who didn’t believe me when I talked about the privatisation of the NHS, the creeping privatisation of the NHS, should start to listen now. When services are cut because of financial pressures from the top and they are replaced by private providers offering exactly the same service, then it’s clear as crystal what the government strategy is all about.”
He said privatisation was not about shares being offered in the NHS or anything ‘happening overnight’.
“It’s bit by bit, contract by contract and before you know it, the NHS will have gone,” added Mr Matheson, who doesn’t blame management at the cash-strapped Countess for renting out space to make money towards providing patient care.
He continued: “It’s a problem of policy. The government is deliberately running down the NHS.”
The IVI group says it is working with leading fertility experts from across the UK to provide ‘best-in-class’ patient care and evidence-based treatments including in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) using the latest and most advanced technologies.
IVI employs more than 2,000 health professionals in over 70 clinics worldwide. Founded in 1990, IVI clinics provided more than 37,000 treatments in 2016 and have delivered more than 160,000 births over the past 26 years.
Enda McVeigh, CEO, IVI UK and associate professor at the University of Oxford Nuffield department of obstetrics and gynaecology, said: “As part of our launch across the UK market, we’re hugely excited to have established a clinic in Chester.
"The Countess of Chester is a fantastic hospital with an exceptional reputation, and is the perfect location through which to offer our pioneering treatments to the people of Cheshire.
"This is a significant investment, both financially and operationally, and we look forward to growing our offering in Chester over the coming years.”