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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 11:59 GMT
Paper offers fertility treatment
A newspaper is offering readers the chance to win fertility treatment.

The Birmingham Post says the likelihood of four candidates conceiving would be tested, with one winner then going on to receive a full course of IVF.

Health Secretary John Reid announced plans for all Primary Care Trusts (PCT) to fund one free IVF treatment cycle to women aged under 40 by 1 April 2005.

The paper says some trusts are still not providing funding and their campaign will raise awareness.

It is also our duty as a newspaper to inform and to educate, even if the subject is unbelievably still considered taboo in some circles
Fiona Alexander, editor Birmingham Post

The Birmingham Post launched the week-long Funded Fertility Treatment For All crusade on Monday after linking up with the Midlands Fertility Services, (MFS), based in Aldridge, near Walsall, in the West Midlands.

It is thought it is the first time a paper in the UK has funded such a competition.

As part of the promotion, couples will be able to apply to receive funding for one of four treatments and investigations which include - ovarian reserve testing, different fertility investigations, intra-uterine insemination and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection.

A spokeswoman for the four PCTs in Birmingham told the BBC that all of them are currently offering a state funded course.

'Inform and educate'

PCTs provide the funding and the treatment is usually carried out at Birmingham Women's Hospital, she added.

A spokesman for the Human Fertility Authority said a course can cost anywhere between 1,500 - 3,000, depending on the complexity of treatment.

Birmingham Post Editor Fiona Alexander said: "We had no idea how many people are affected, or could be affected, by fertility problems. It shocked us.

"It also our duty as a newspaper to inform and to educate, even if the subject is unbelievably still considered taboo in some circles.

Pre-defined criteria

"We believe every couple should have the opportunity to receive one fertility cycle on the NHS and would urge all PCTs to start doing so before the Government's April deadline.

Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director at the clinic and chair of the British Fertility Society Ethics Committee, said they backed the campaign for universal funded fertility treatment.

She said: "About one in six couples have problems conceiving and currently only 30% of the Midlands' couples who require fertility treatment have ready access NHS funding, with the number of treatment cycles offered and the length of the waiting lists dependent on where they live.

"The Birmingham Post is providing the opportunity for a funded fertility investigation or treatment which gives everyone who needs it an equal chance to benefit from the same high quality choices currently available only to privately-funded patients and to some people on the NHS."

Interested readers are invited to submit an application form which will be printed in the paper on Tuesday.

Shake-up of IVF 'welfare' checks
13 Jan 05 |  Business
NHS to offer one free IVF cycle
25 Feb 04 |  Health

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