Anger at 'unethical' raffle that gives childless couples chance to win £1,000 discount on IVF treatment

By Rebecca Seales

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Damning: Ann Widdecombe accused the South East Fertility Clinic of insensitivity

Damning: Ann Widdecombe accused the South East Fertility Clinic of insensitivity

Former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe has slammed a fertility clinic which is offering IVF treatment as a raffle prize to would-be parents.

The South East Fertility Clinic (SEFC), in Kent, is celebrating its fifth anniversary by giving couples the chance to win £1,000 off IVF treatment and a free consultation.

A team of promoters will be handing out 5,000 leaflets in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, this week with details on how couples can enter the prize draw.

The clinic says the aim is for couples to join in its celebratory year and to raise awareness about infertility. 

However, former Maidstone and The Weald MP Miss Widdecombe says the offer 'trivialises' couples’ desperate bids to become parents.

'IVF is something you have after a lot of consultation,' she said.

'It’s something which is probably going to involve considerable disappointment, and the idea it can be offered as a prize as if it were a cake at a WI stall is just appalling.

'You wonder what next - is some great charity going to offer a heart operation as a prize?

 

'It’s completely wrong, it’s unethical and I think they should rethink it.

'Anybody might win this prize who actually wouldn’t necessarily come to this route, so I don’t think it is a good idea at all, and I think it is trivialising
what for some people is a massive heartache.

'When it’s something of this level of psychological pressure as well as
physical pressure, I just don’t think it’s got any role at all in what amounts
to a raffle.'

Anniversary: As well as its own fifth birthday, the South East Fertility Clinic (pictured) will shortly celebrate the delivery of 1,000 babies

Anniversary: As well as its own fifth birthday, the South East Fertility Clinic (pictured) will shortly celebrate the delivery of 1,000 babies

Defending the competition, SEFC managing director Ruth Hardy said: 'Couples having trouble conceiving can go through months and years of anxiety without taking the step to seek medical help.

'There is a much greater variety of help and assistance that we can offer to people wishing to have a baby, but they need to make the first step to get help.

'Hopefully this opportunity will give them the encouragement they need.'

Raffle: The prize draw will give couples the chance to win £1,000 off IVF treatment and a free consultation

Raffle: The prize draw will give couples the chance to win £1,000 off IVF treatment and a free consultation

A spokesperson for South East Fertility Clinic said today that it was attempting to 'put something back' into the community.

The clinic said: 'SEFC has a highly experienced team of doctors, scientists and nurses offering a high quality fertility service to the people in the south
east of England.

'We are proud to announce our fifth anniversary and the delivery of 1000 babies.

Fatherly joy: The clinic says it is aiming to help childless couples

Fatherly joy: The clinic says it is aiming to help childless couples

'We will be having a baby party in December to meet up with the Mums and Dads and to see their children as they grow up.

'To mark the celebrations, we also wish to put something back into the local community who have supported us over the years.

'The offer of subsidised treatment for five couples needing our help, whether ineligible for NHS treatment or unable to afford the full cost of treatment, may allow some couples to start their much-wanted family.

'We can only see this will be of benefit to our couples as have many other
clinics who have celebrated similarly over the years.

'Of course, a draw ensures everyone has a fair and equal opportunity. SEFC wishes every success to our couples both now and in the future.'

One IVF cycle at the SEFC clinic costs £3,000, with £175 for an initial
consultation and £90 for follow-up consultations on top.

However, many couples need more than one cycle to get pregnant so the costs can quickly rise.

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Until you have felt the heartache of being in this situation you should not pass judgement. As a patient of SEFC I have seen first hand the amazing work that they do and by no means do they exist solely to make money. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a position where we are having to fund our own treatment having fallen foul to the NHS postcode lottery. The stigma attached to be 'infertile' is something that society needs to change and why should a clinic be criticised for trying to help couples who find themselves in this awful situation through no fault of their own. The £1,000 they're offering may help people like us realise something they have been dreaming about for a long time, something that many people in society take for granted.

Click to rate     Rating   3

It's hardly advertising - are there really people running around Tunbridge Wells who will now think - "Oooooooooh £1k off the price of a nipper - that's changed my mind - I'll have 4". If this makes it easier for a handful of couples who have made the conscious and long agonised decision to persue this very expensive way to experience the joy, pain, excitement, challenge of bringing a little one into this world then good on them.

Click to rate     Rating   7

Just proves that medical treatment in the UK isn't just a lottery after all...

Click to rate     Rating   4

It is an unethical way of advertising and seeking publicity. It would have been more appropriate to select 2 couples for a full free treatment (without the raffle) . The costs don't stop there. Add on costs for freezing unused eggs, blood tests - another £500. It's also important to look at the success statistics of every clinic to make an informed decision.

Click to rate     Rating   4

I agree 100% with Miss Widdecombe.

Click to rate     Rating   4

Although I have never needed IVF, I do agree with Ann W's wise comments

Click to rate     Rating   2

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