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James Paget gives new IVF hope

PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:57 01 August 2010

More couples who fear the odds are stacked against them becoming parents will have a better chance under plans to expand the fertility clinic at the James Paget University Hospital.

More couples who fear the odds are stacked against them becoming parents will have a better chance under plans to expand the fertility clinic at the James Paget University Hospital.

Next month, the hugely-successful clinic at Gorleston will take on a new consultant and expand so it can meet the needs of 400 couples a year - it currently sees about 250. And that means more women facing the prospect of childlessness might experience the joy of having a baby after all.

Also included in the expansion plans is the opening of an outreach assessment clinic at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), led by experts at the JPH, who will provide and run the service.

Peter Greenwood, lead consultant for sub-fertility at the JPH, said: “This is good news for couples wanting fertility treatment. There will be more services closer to home.

“The number of people seeking treatment keeps on rising. Some of the reason is that women are waiting until they are older to have children and, therefore, possibly experiencing more complications.

“But I think the 15pc rise is because we offer three treatments to women, so it means the rise may be higher here than elsewhere.

“Our aim has always been to help couples get the best-quality, individualised and successful fertility treatment. And, with our partnership with the world-class Bourn Hall, our expansion and the new service at the N&N will mean we can achieve this for even more women.”

It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 couples a year in Norfolk who seek IVF and many more who want the treatment but have not been able to access it.

In the past three years, demand for IVF in Norfolk has risen by 15pc, and the region can boast some of the best fertility rates in the country - with 40pc of couples having success

on IVF, compared with 30pc nationally.

Until last October, some infertile women faced long and repeated journeys to London for treatment after a Norwich clinic closed, but there are now partnerships between Bourn Hall Clinic, near Cambridge, the JPH and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), at King's Lynn.

In May last year, the east of England became the first region in the country to fund all eligible couples for up to three cycles of fertility treatment - providing they meet certain criteria - whereas in other parts of the country they can only have one or two.

There are three stages to IVF, and, after a patient is referred to a consultant at the JPH, N&N or the QEH, their treatment will be carried out there before the final stage where the embryo is transferred; this will still take place at Bourn Hall.

To qualify for treatment, couples must meet specific criteria.

In particular, women must be

aged between 23 and 39 with no children from their current relationship.

In the general population, 70pc of couples will conceive naturally within 18 months of trying for a baby and 90pc after two years.

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