Childless Peterborough couples shouldn’t be put on hold for the elections

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Health professionals are not only there to treat our illnesses, they are there to care for us.

I’m struggling to reconcile that with the decision made by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to axe (save for a few exceptional cases) the funding for people desperate for a baby who wanted IVF.

It was no surprise that many people were dismayed by that decision – and it as close to playing God as is humanly possible – not least because it is still available to the vast majority of people in this country.

Has it been forgotten that this is supposed to be the NATIONAL (sorry for shouting, but I think it’s necessary) Health Service?

And is it really the case that the fifth largest economy in the history of mankind can’t afford to use available technology for the good of its people?

But if it is (now where did I park my other Ferrari?) at least this draconian austerity should be applied equally across the nation.

The hopes of childless people in this county – where in a poignant irony fertility treatment was pioneered – were raised after hints the £700,000 funding was to be reinstated.

That was due to have been decided a few days ago but the CCG has put any decision off.

This sparked outrage from people desperately hoping for the decision to be reversed.

One said: “My wife and I have been waiting for this day for months. I’ve just had to show this to her and she’s devastated. We now have to put our lives on hold indefinitely even longer. Shambolic.”

Another added: “We had everything crossed that we would stop being in the 3% of heartless districts that offer no cycles. I am so upset that our future hopes have just been crossed out on an agenda with a swift pen stroke without a thought of the consequences.”

So why this heartbreaking delay?

This is what the CCG said: “Due to the extension of the pre-election period for European Elections and the Peterborough by-election, we will not be bringing our findings and recommendations in relation to specialist fertility services to our May meeting, but will be discussing this after the election period.”

You may well ask what has the election period got to do with it?

It’s all to do with purdah – a somewhat loosely defined concept that is open to interpretation to say the least.

Basically, it means public servants should be strictly neutral during election campaigns.

If the CCG is correct in its interpretation, and that’s certainly open to debate, the rules need revisiting.

Why should lives be put on hold until we know who our next MEP is?

And what happens if – as is a possibility – a General Election is called before the CCG can reconvene? Another delay?

God forbid, somebody resigns from Bretton Parish Council in the meantime!