Kent

Crohn's woman Lizzie Rose in High Court fertility plea

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Media captionLizzie Rose, 25, from Margate, is receiving treatment for Crohn's disease

A woman who has Crohn's disease has begun a legal fight to freeze her eggs before she has chemotherapy, which she fears will make her infertile.

Lawyers for Lizzie Rose told the High Court the case was urgent with "a short window of opportunity" for treatment.

Miss Rose, 25, from Kent, has been refused NHS-funded fertility preservation treatment.

NHS chiefs said they did not normally fund the treatment because of a lack of evidence of its effectiveness.

Jeremy Hyam, the barrister representing Miss Rose, said in written argument the policy was unlawful and out of date.

'Single women treated differently'

He said: "The expected consequence for her, if the fertility preservation treatment is not provided, is lifelong infertility and the inability to bear her own genetic child.

"Oocyte cryopreservation [the freezing of eggs] takes a few weeks to complete and therefore there is a short window of opportunity."

The court heard Miss Rose, from Margate, was diagnosed with Crohn's at the age of 14.

She faces "imminent" bone marrow transplantation and chemotherapy.

Clinicians at King's College Hospital in south London applied for funding on her behalf to freeze her eggs before treatment.

But Mr Hyam said there had been a "continuing refusal" by Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide the procedure.

Image caption Thanet CCG said it had to fund services for its population and had to take difficult decisions

Miss Rose, a fine art graduate, wants to keep her hopes of having children alive.

She claims the treatment is available to single women in other parts of the country and believes she is the victim of a "postcode lottery".

Merry Varney, from law firm Leigh Day which is also representing Miss Rose, said the CCG provided the procedure for men and couples.

NHS decision 'lawful'

In a statement, he said: "Whilst we and our client appreciate there are limited funds available, Nice (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) reviewed the clinical evidence and cost-effectiveness of this treatment and has recommended it should be offered.

"Thanet CCG provide funding for fertility preservation for males and couples, also recommended by Nice on similar terms.

"It cannot be right to not fund this treatment for women like Lizzie."

Thanet CCG said its refusal was lawful: "The policy all Kent and Medway CCGs have adopted, after extensive consultation and clinical advice, is that this particular procedure will not normally be funded by the NHS in Kent and Medway on the basis that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate effectiveness.

"We are very sorry about the distress this may cause patients who are facing very difficult personal circumstances," it added.

The judge reserved his decision.

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