Demystifying NHS funded IVF and fertility treatment in Essex

NHS-funded IVF is now available across all of Essex, but navigating the pathway can feel confusing at times. Advice on getting fertility fit and the treatment options available are to be discussed at an open evening at Bourn Hall’s Essex Clinic on June 28.

Dr Arpita Ray, lead clinician for Bourn Hall Essex, said: “If you have been trying to conceive for over two years without success this is an indication of infertility. To access NHS fertility investigations, couples need to be non-smokers and have a healthy BMI and this is good advice for anyone trying to conceive.

“Our meeting is open to everyone and will give a clear explanation of the steps in the fertility pathway and how to help yourself achieve your goals.”

GPs are the first point of call for couples struggling with infertility. They may then be referred for fertility testing at a hospital (NHS Level 2). If a reason is found that makes natural conception highly unlikely, or other treatment is unsuccessful, then the couple may be referred for IVF treatment (NHS Level 3). The final decision for funding is made by the Integrated Care Board (ICB).

In Essex there are three Integrated Care Boards – Mid and South Essex, Suffolk and Northeast Essex and Hertfordshire and West Essex. Each now offer NHS funded IVF for patients that meet the eligibility criteria, but this varies according to the ICB. This will be discussed at the meeting.

Bourn Hall provides NHS funded and self-funded IVF treatment across Essex and also provides self-funded fertility testing that can indicate if IVF is required.

There are interventions such as improving nutrition and health, medical treatments and surgery that can increase the chances of natural conception or successful treatment, the fertility specialists can advise on these as well. Bourn Hall has a dedicated nutritional therapist and she is on hand to offer any advice needed.

Amira and Stuart from Essex are parents to Ismail after successful NHS-funded IVF

Amira Abbas and Stuart Hitchcock from Essex are parents to son Ismail after successful NHS-funded IVF at Bourn Hall.

“We had always wanted children and before we got married had talked all the time about how lovely it would be to start our own family,” says Amira.

“I was in my late twenties when we started trying for a baby. I work as a nursery nurse and was surrounded by children every day. Some of my friends were starting to get pregnant and when nothing was happening for us it didn’t feel fair. I was determined to find out why it was proving so difficult for us to conceive.

“My periods had always been irregular and so I had assumed that the ‘problem’ was with me. But tests showed that as well as me having PCOS there was also a male factor, and that is when we were offered IVF.

“Having the opportunity to have NHS-funded IVF at Bourn Hall means so much to us, and we feel really lucky that it worked first time. When we found out I was pregnant I cried with joy.

“When Ismail arrived I was so emotional, I had been waiting and dreaming of that moment for such a long time.”

Find out more and book your place on the open evening at


Mick Ferris

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