IVF: NHS or Private?

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reader
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IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby reader » Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:45 pm

I am a healthy 35 year old who has recently had a medical termination at 16 weeks after trying to conceive for 4 years. All health checks have come back as normal.

We are Wandsworth residents and have been for our NHS IVF consultation at Epsom & St. Helier's. The session was incredibly informative and the staff most helpful. Our dilemma concerns the opacity of success rates across London and the decision to go private or continue using NHS. We are eligible for treatment with King's, Kingston, Guy's & St Thomas, Chelsea & Westminster and St Helier's.

We are considering the following factors for IVF, including our options should treatment be unsuccessful;

- continued cost: embryo storage and subsequent treatment
- continuity of care: we prefer to use NHS for pregnancy and delivery and would like to remain with one hospital throughout
- historical live birth rates: there appears to be no simple way in making comparisons
- treatment approach: heavy vs light medication/invasive vs not so invasive

We are attempting to be pragmatic in our approach and would like to know if anyone, having used both NHS and private IVF treatments, may offer up a comparison?

Thank you kindly for your time and for sharing.
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reader
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby reader » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:39 pm

reader wrote:I am a healthy 35 year old who has recently had a medical termination at 16 weeks after trying to conceive for 4 years. All health checks have come back as normal.

We are Wandsworth residents and have been for our NHS IVF consultation at Epsom & St. Helier's. The session was incredibly informative and the staff most helpful. Our dilemma concerns the opacity of success rates across London and the decision to go private or continue using NHS. We are eligible for treatment with King's, Kingston, Guy's & St Thomas, Chelsea & Westminster and St Helier's.

We are considering the following factors for IVF, including our options should treatment be unsuccessful;

- continued cost: embryo storage and subsequent treatment
- continuity of care: we prefer to use NHS for pregnancy and delivery and would like to remain with one hospital throughout
- historical live birth rates: there appears to be no simple way in making comparisons
- treatment approach: heavy vs light medication/invasive vs not so invasive
- diagnostic testing: our last pregnancy failed due to lethal Turner's Syndrome, so we are considering the merits of pre-implantation genetic testing

We are attempting to be pragmatic in our approach and would like to know if anyone, having used both NHS and private IVF treatments, may offer up a comparison?

Thank you kindly for your time and for sharing.
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Happynanny1
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby Happynanny1 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:06 pm

I have had my IVF at st helier on the NHS and I can't fault them at all I'm not pregnant yet as I got OHSS and was in hospital so they have frozen my 6embros and I'm having 2 back in a few weeks, all I can say is if you qualify for NHS I would go for it as the treatment is no different from private, also I think you only get 1 go free and than you would have to pay anyway, so think as go 1 as a trial run so if you do have to pay second go, you will have a better chance as they can see what works and what doesn't

Hope this makes sense

Lulu x
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Cleod
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby Cleod » Sun Sep 18, 2016 12:12 am

Hi
I've posted about this before. So try searching for it.
My experience is that the NHS was slap dash, didn't really take into consideration why I wasn't getting pregnant, I had no continuity of care- ie everytime I went for a scan there was a different person doing it and everytime had great difficultly because of my previous surgery and so rather than get someone senior just muddled on, they messed up my timings for egg collection, was treated like a waste of their time because I wouldn't be contributing to their numbers and then after it obviously failed was told I had a slim to none chance of getting pregnant. All in all a complete disaster.
I then went privately, to a different clinic and got investigated thoroughly with no stone left unturned, treated appropriately, amazing continuity of care- the same doctor for everything, and miraculously got pregnant. I went back to the NHS for the antenatal care but supplemented with seeing my ivf doctor privately to maintain the pregnancy with all the extra meds and tests.
It is one of the most difficult and stressful and heart aching time of my life.
Whatever you do you have to feel comfortable and don't let things just slip, I wish I had spoken out at the beginning of my NHS treatment rather than it all turning into a disaster. One thing is, at least the first trial run was on the NHS and depending on your postcode you can get 1-3 tries. Good luck!
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sarahsarah
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby sarahsarah » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:36 pm

I agree, if you qualify for NHS then definitely make use of its services.
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artgirl30
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby artgirl30 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:58 am

I've done both NHS and private at St Thomas and there was no difference in the quality of care. I was very happy with how I was treated. Prior to St Thomas, I had IVF at an expensive private clinic and was very disappointed with the quality of my care. Instead of being seen as an individual, I felt like a statistic and that the consultant only spent 10 minutes examining my file before telling me try several other expensive treatments. This is in contrast to St Thomas where I felt like the consultant took the time to get to know me and come up with the most appropriate treatment. If you're happy with your NHS hospital, go for it, but if you don't want to wait, go private. Good luck!
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this_is_cat
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby this_is_cat » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:49 am

I'm so sorry for your pregnancy loss.

All the clinics you've listed also do private treatment, so you won't find much difference in treatment when going as a funded vs self-funded patient, other than the wait. It took about 8 months from my St Helier's appointment to starting treatment for me. You can also have up to 2 self funded cycles without it affecting your eligibility for the NHS round (but in reality, they don't actually check so it wouldn't be an issue if you have had more than 2)

I know given your experience, you would want to focus on the live birth rates rather than pregnancy rates, but it is very difficult for clinics to obtain reliable statistics for this. They will obviously know how many patients get pregnant by tracking how many come back in for the early scan at 6 weeks, but after this, the patient won't have any reason to update the clinic on the progress of their pregnancy.

Pregnancy rates are also difficult to compare, because some clinics will treat 'difficult' cases such as women with low ovarian reserve. Other clinics have qualifying criteria. It is therefore very difficult to do a like for like comparison, similar to comparing exam results from highly selective schools v's comprehensives, if that makes sense?

The advantage you'll get at the private clinics is the option to try more experimental treatments, and more tailored treatment. I found my NHS round at the Chelsea and Westminter very 'cookie cutter' and worst of all, they didn't sedate me for the egg collection which was total agony. For that reason alone, I wouldn't recommend them!

I would also ask clinics about their OHSS rates. I'm alarmed at the poster who said she can't fault her treatment despite getting OHSS! It's a very dangerous condition and a responsible clinic would avoid it at all costs...

I don't know the reasons for your previous pregnancy loss, but if it is a chromosonal issue, you might want to look at clinics which offer PGS where the embryos are screened before being put back to make sure they are chromosonally normal.

Good luck with your treatment
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charscarles
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby charscarles » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:14 pm

Hi there - Firstly I am so incredibly sorry that you suffered such a horrid loss recently. thoughts and prayers are with you and your partner.

I really hope that this blurb can offer you hope and advise! We are the very lucky and proud parents of our son who is 13 months old following our 6th round of IVF.....

Our first 5 cycles were all undertaken at St Helliers with embryo transfer at Kings on three occasions and the bridge for one (the remaining cycle we had no embryos to put back). Firstly We couldn't fault St Helliers, we had been going to the assisted conception unit to try various other things for about a year and a half before our first cycle which we self funded. We were very fortunate to get two funded cycles and when they failed we paid for the other two attempts at St Hellier.

The team there are incredible, given how in demand they are and what little funding they have you really do feel like an individual and they actually care about the outcome.

Kings we have little to comment on really as it was soely the transfer of the two funded cycles that took place there and they were very friendly although did manage to mess up the freezing process of our embryos on one cycle :( but hey humans are exactly that and mistakes happen its important to remember that.

When our 5th cycle failed the guys at St hellier sat us down at the follow up consult and were nothing but honest and said we can try here again and we are happy to do so but we feel there is something we are missing and we are not equipped to tell you what that is. You need more treatment than we are able to offer and we would rather you tried somewhere with more specialised techniques and they gave us their recommendations for other clinics.

We ended up taking their advice and moving to ARGC, a decision we didn't take likely at all we did hours of research and this is where we thought our chances were best. As you know this whole journey is such an emotional rollercoaster and really takes its toll physically and mentally so we decided this was our very last roll of the dice, apart from anything else financially we were totally limited.

ARGC is well like no where else i have ever been its bonkers. It seems like there is no order, nothing in its right place etc but the work they do there for the number of patients they have is madness! You have to be prepared to wait for ages when you are there and potentially go back twice in a day if needs be so you are basically at their beckandcall.

We are the lucky ones it worked for us, with huge amounts of help from the guys at ARGC including hormone profiling, natural killer cell tests, intralipid drips, the works!

I guess what i am trying to say is there is no right or wrong, you need to give yourselves the best chance you possibly can to succeed. One thing i would say we were trying for almost 7 years and our son was born when i was 35 and time as you know does make a difference so if you can bear that in mind when making decisions If you ever want to grab a coffee and chat further i am more than willing to do so. This is a very long babble and i know what a lonely thing IVF can be!

Take great care and stay strong
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IrenaP
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby IrenaP » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:56 pm

I was also sorry to read about your situation. I second the comment on ARGC on Wimpole Street. This is my situation: we had our twins there (as did many others I know), and the bespoke service was second to none.

It was an ordeal - we did one cycle but many months of tests to determine the right protocol for us - but that made all the difference I think. In fact the consultant said that in actuality your first cycle is the 'best indicator' of how IVF will work for you, so I think you need the best possible understanding of your situation to get this cycle right. I resent all the advertisements for clinics offering 3 for 1 deals - I think this is completely misleading and playing into the emotional turmoil of wanting a baby. That said, even the couples that I know that did two cycles there many were successful too :-)

I also went to Zita West for acupuncture, nutrition, 'pastoral' support - yes it was expensive to do all this, we did not have a lot of money and had to remortgage our property but it was totally worth it to go completely for it. I did not want to try on the NHS and then try other places - I know I did not have the stamina mentally or physically (I was 36 at the time).

Many couples that are successful with ARGC are referrals from the NHS and other private clinics - so worth checking them out if you want a second opinion (which I recommend - we got a few before embarking on that journey...) Also check HFEA for useful data, but of course the whole thing is more than statistics. For us, the winning factor for ARGC was (besides results) the cutting edge technology, research and even the comments that the second opinion competitors said about the elusive Dr Tirannisi. He is an international leader in the field and like Charscaries said immunology seems to be the issue for so many couples....
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Cleod
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby Cleod » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:04 pm

I'd like to add to/agree with the last couple of people posting. It's all the extra immune tests and treatment that I think made all the difference to us. How can you treat a problem when you don't know the reason for it? And I feel on the NHS they only treat part of the problem, I know so many people that have an unknown reason for their infertility- which actually turns out to be immune issues.
I also had countless blood tests for the immunity and scans and procedures to check my tubes and lining thickness, cervix height all of these things make a difference. It was stressful and expensive, we spent at least £15k. I also had acupuncture- it is proven to help, and my acupuncturist was also like my weekly therapist!
We had treatment with Dr Gorgy also on Wimpole street- he used to work at ARGC but set up on his own. What I liked is the continuity of care that he gave me, he did absolutely everything. I went to Kate Freemantle for acupuncture. And I listened to zita west CDs.
I know this might sound insensitive at this difficult time, but at least you know you can get pregnant- you now need to find the strength to get over your loss and take the next step to maintaining a pregnancy too.
I really feel for you and anyone reading these posts. It is just so so difficult. I wish you all the best.
Xx
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Cleod
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby Cleod » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:08 pm

Oh I also went gluten free! Because eating gluten flared up an immune response in my bloods and it's quite common apparently!
Infertility support groups online were a wealth of knowledge of all the new techniques and procedures too. One of them had a glossary of all the terms that I found very useful.
You'll feel empowered as well sick with nervousness once you read them but honestly they help.
Good luck x
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JMPhoto
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby JMPhoto » Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:37 pm

I am so sorry to hear of your recent loss. I am currently undergoing treatment at Zita West and I cannot fault their care. We are suffering from secondary infertility and so do not qualify for treatment with the NHS. We did have basic tests including a HYCOSY at Kingston and were referred for self funded IVF treatment there. We decided that if we were to pay for it, then we were probably best going with a private clinic. That said, if we had the opportunity to have a funded NHS cycle then we would have gone with it to save some money - with a view to going private if it failed. I believe that the NHS approach is quite standard, where a private clinic may recommend further tests and personalised treatments. We decided to go with Zita West because of the quality of their care and emotional support - as well as their excellent results. From a practical point of view too, they are open at the weekend and you don't have to wait hours for an appointment. My first round was a success (after 5 years of trying) but sadly I miscarried at 9 weeks. Further tests revealed immune problems that the NHS would not have identified or treated. I am now looking forward to doing a frozen embryo transfer. It really is a minefield so best of luck with everything.
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oab
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Re: IVF: NHS or Private?

Postby oab » Fri Sep 30, 2016 10:20 am

this is second hand information, but a very good friend went through IVF recently..

I think it's not necessarily a matter of NHS vs private, but of which IVF (private or NHS) is best.

My friend had 2 rounds of IVF at London bridge hospital (unsuccessful) and 1 successful round at ARGC.
My understanding is that ARGC is so successful because it's quite intensive (very exact timings for medications, lots of blood tests, etc) and they do all sorts of investigations (immune tests, etc) that other clinics do no do.
Once pregnant, the antenatal care can be anywhere (NHS or private) but you continue to see the IVF specialist at ARGC.

good luck!
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