Suffolk couples denied IVF on NHS if they use e-cigarettes
PUBLISHED: 17:30 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:30 05 April 2018
Suffolk couples struggling to have a baby are being refused NHS support if they vape, it has been revealed.
An investigation by the Mail on Sunday has found the county’s two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are among a handful in England to deny people in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment if they use e-cigarettes.
In February, Public Health England published a report led by evidence from independent tobacco experts saying vaping was at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes and was a safe way to quit smoking.
The Mail reported there was “scant evidence” that vaping harms human fertility or unborn children.
A spokesman for Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk NHS CCGs said: “The current CCGs’ policy does not distinguish between smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Under the current policy couples who smoke are not eligible for IVF treatment.
“However, we are very willing to reconsider this policy when there is clear clinical evidence to show that e-cigarettes do not have an adverse effect on conception.”
In 2016/17 the Suffolk CCGs proposed to make cuts to their IVF provision in a bid to save money but dropped the plans after a public consultation.
They continue to offer two cycles for eligible women up to 40 and one round for those aged 40-42.
Ipswich mother Cara Miller gave birth to son Adam in February 2015 after her second round of IVF.
The 37-year-old said the e-cigarette policy seemed to be “another attempt to try and save a bit of money on IVF”.
She added: “It’s a soft target for people.”
While agreeing women should do everything they could to prepare their bodies for pregnancy, Mrs Miller said vapers should only be banned from accessing free IVF if there was strong enough evidence to suggest it would negatively impact the treatment or the baby.
She added: “I think it’s pointless because I think people would just lie.
“There’s no policing or monitoring of it so people will never own up to something like that if it means it will cost them £6,000 or more.”
Mrs Miller and her husband Stewart had been trying to conceive for eight years before turning to IVF.
The Mail discovered at least 16 of the country’s 195 CCGs withhold IVF from vapers.
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