It is no secret that Ross and I have continuously found ourselves at a dead end when it comes to the fertility treatment in this country. It is not the first time that there has been a post airing grievances about the NHS system on this blog and, once again, I find myself having to vent. So, in amongst tears of anger and frustration, I need to get the latest instalment off my chest.
Firstly, regular readers of my blog will know that I have been vlogging about our attempts to conceive. That will be back – I just wanted to take a break from it for a while.
At the end of July, Ross and I travelled to Alicante in Spain to meet with IVF Spain. We were runners up in the Fertility Road magazine competition and are receiving half price treatment (much to the relief of our bank balances!). Whilst we were there, the clinic presented us with a treatment schedule and explained that I would have to run through a mock cycle prior to the actual transfer. Sensible. At that point, they also gave us a list of medication we needed including a contraceptive pill to regulate my cycle, an oestrogen-based tablet, a progesterone tablet, an intramuscular injection and some folic acid. They explained the costs in Spain and said that we may be able to get the medication in the UK. They also recommended a mammogram which they could do at extra cost. In order to reduce costs, we decided to seek help from our own country – big mistake!
On our return, I made an appointment to see my GP and took all the paperwork with me. On arrival she assessed me for the Microgynon which was fine and then explained that she would have to contact the local fertility clinic to see whether or not she was OK to prescribe the rest of the medication. She also said that the breast clinic can get a bit funny about doing routine mammograms and that she would have to write to them. This was back on 4th August and, as far as I was concerned, these were all straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.
Fast forward to Wednesday 17th August and still no answer so I rang the surgery. I was told that there were no notes on the file and that my doctor was on holiday. She said that I would have to wait until Tuesday to speak to someone. I told her that this was not good enough and that I was fed up with the NHS being so obstructive in our route to having a baby, so she said that she would get another doctor to call me.
For what it was worth, it was a complete waste of time. The doctor I spoke to said that it wasn’t normal protocol that they did this. So I asked him why my own GP hadn’t said this to me in the first place? He couldn’t give me a straight answer. Then he started to say to me that he didn’t want to raise my hopes. I responded with the fact that instead they were raising my stress levels which is in no way conducive to having a baby! I told him to forget it and I would find out from my GP on her return.
In the meantime, I received an email from the clinic in Spain with a prescription as, during the tests they carried out, they had found I had bacterial vaginosis. I asked them how I would go about obtaining this and they said that I could take it to my local pharmacy. Due to all the running around we had to do over the weekend, I finally got to the surgery this morning to get the prescription and check in with them regarding speaking to my GP.
The pharmacist explained to me that the prescription was digitally signed and he could not accept this. It would either need to be counter-signed by my GP or she would have to provide me with another one.
I then took the prescription to the receptionist of the surgery and explained this. She told me that this would be ready the following day after 2pm. Then I advised her that I would like to speak to my GP reference to all of the above! I was told that I would not be able to speak with her and that she was not available until Thursday, as Wednesday was her day off. I explained that this was time-sensitive. It has been nearly 3 weeks of waiting for an answer and it is not long until I have to start my mock cycle. The problem is is that if we do have to get the medication from Spain then I don’t know how long it will take! The receptionist could see that I was visibly upset so she relented and told me that she would get my GP to call me.
When I got back from the surgery, there was a copy of a letter sent to my GP regarding the mammogram stating that they felt that my family history was not significant (I would’ve thought that my mum having breast cancer twice was!!) and that I did not need a mammogram. This now means I have to sign a disclaimer for Spain.
At 6pm, my GP rang. I advised her of the letter and then asked her what had happened with regards to the medication. She confirmed that I had seen her on 4th August and they sent a letter(!) on 8th August. I asked her why it had taken so long to get a simple yes or no? She couldn’t answer me and kept on skirting around the issue. I said that I was under the impression that she was going to call them, not write to them. She said that she would need something in writing. I said that I understood this but surely verbal confirmation, followed by a letter would speed up the process – especially when time isn’t on our side here! She didn’t know what to say to me. I then got annoyed. I told her that I was sick to death of all the red tape and the fact that my own country is obstructing us in trying to have a baby. I understand that we are not eligible to be given help for treatment on the NHS but surely they could at least step in and help us where they can on the smaller issues. She said that she had helped me. She had prescribed me the pill. I told her, with all due respect, I could have just made an appointment to get the pill for any reason – it really isn’t that difficult for her to assess me for that! It is a run-of-the-mill request. I then put her on the spot. I asked her could she help me? Yes or no? Again, no straight answer. So, I said ‘I tell you what. I’ll make a decision for you, shall I? I will say that you can’t help me and I will go back to Spain. Her answer? ‘Oh well, if that’s what you want to do’!! I told her that it wasn’t ‘what I wanted to do’, what I wanted was for her to help me but it is clear that this isn’t happening so I have no choice.
You know what? And yes, I am going to bring it up again. This is another reason that this country is idiotic for voting to come out of the European Union. From what I have seen so far, Spain is a far, far better option for our medical treatment. I am getting to the stage where I am so tired of fighting for what I want now – and why the hell should I have to?!
UPDATE on 24th August 2016: I need to say a big thanks to Helen, who is the Fertility Nurse that I am in contact with at Yeovil Hospital. She did something that my GP should have done 3 weeks ago. I rang her yesterday evening to explain the situation. She advised me that the Fertility Consultant was on holiday until next week and she would need to look into this further. She could not find the letter so, this morning, she got a copy faxed from my GP’s surgery. She then took this to the consultant who was on duty who advised that they would not agree to prescribing the medication. She then phoned me to explain this and said that she could wait until next Tuesday when the other consultant returns. I told her that she didn’t need to do this as she has answered the question that needed to be responded to and now I can go back to the clinic in Spain to resolve it. Thanks to her, the question has finally been answered and that was all I wanted. If only my GP had been this proactive!