National fertility charity warns Hartlepool services axe will be ‘damaging’ to patients

Embryos being placed in a long term storage chamber.  Photo credit Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Embryos being placed in a long term storage chamber. Photo credit Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A leading fertility charity says the end of licensed services in Hartlepool will have a damaging effect on patients.

The national organisation Fertility Network UK spoke out about the issue which will see couples trying to conceive having to travel to other hospitals in the area for treatment such as IVF.

Fertility patients in Hartlepool and North Tees will suffer as a result of this closure

Susan Seenan, Fertility Network UK

It comes just a day after company CARE Fertility which has been helping to provide the service at the University Hospital of Hartlepool for several months, revealed it was one of the interested bidders that was rejected by health chiefs.

Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group, which undertook a tender process for the Assisted Reproduction Unit, said it had a limited response during its search for a new provider, and none that came forward met the required quality standards.

Susan Seenan, chief executive of Fertility Network UK, said: “Undergoing IVF is an incredibly stressful and lengthy process. Hospital appointments are numerous and acutely time-sensitive.

“Consequently, being able to access a local, convenient hospital is of incredible importance and can help to alleviate the stress caused by travelling long distances or having to negotiate work arrangements with employers who are often reluctant to allow time off for fertility medical appointments.’

“For many, fertility struggles are still taboo. Some of the one in six people in the UK affected by fertility problems do not tell their family, friends or employers that they are having fertility treatment; multiple round trips to an unfamiliar out-of-town hospital without support in your work or home environment may be too difficult or distressing.

“Fertility patients in Hartlepool and North Tees will suffer as a result of this closure.”

The search for a new provider came about after current providers North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust said it could no longer provide a safe service due to problems around recruitment.

Hartlepool Borough Council says the CCG has questions to answer about the tender process and a meeting has been arranged at the Civic Centre for Wednesday, February 8, at 11am.

The CCG said it was unable to comment on individual bidders due confidentiality.

A spokesman said it will present information about the process to the council as requested adding: “As commissioners, our priority is to ensure any service we commission is safe, clinically effective and of the highest quality.

“For assurance following the outcome of the procurement the CCG is endeavouring to secure provision of services in Hartlepool and are in discussions to identify how this can be achieved.”