LOCAL NHS patients currently have to pay to use an IVF clinic in the city, despite the service being free to people from Herefordshire.

Mother-of-two Lauren Ali says it is 'absolutely wrong' that NHS patients in Worcestershire cannot use the Oxford Fertility centre in Bath Road, Worcester, for free.

Health bosses currently send local couples who are struggling to conceive to Birmingham for IVF.

Mrs Ali, aged 30, from Himbleton, near Worcester, said she was drained by the long trips to her clinic while undergoing treatment.

She said: "It wasn't pleasant. It gives you time to think of the worst. The process of IVF is hard anyway.

"It can bring you down, especially if you have driven an hour and they give you bad news and you have to drive an hour back."

Mrs Ali underwent IVF at a private clinic in Telford in 2016, after suffering an ectopic pregnancy.

She was delighted to deliver her second child, Maya, 18 months ago and is now calling for an end to the 'postcode lottery' for treatment.

Another woman, who lives in Worcester but did not want to be named, said she was also stressed out by her regular trips to receive IVF treatment in Birmingham.

She said: "For some people IVF is a daily thing. It can be daily trips. Trying to fit that in with work is quite difficult.

"I think it would be a good idea for it [the Worcester clinic] to open to NHS patients."

The resident, who had an unsuccessful round of treatment in 2017, said women also become more anxious when they have to change doctors by going to another hospital.

Jon Hughes, who runs the Oxford Fertility clinic at Spire South Bank Hospital, in Bath Road, wants to open his centre up to NHS patients.

He said: "Hopefully this year we will be able to.

"At present all patients have to go to Birmingham for four or five scans. It's not ideal for local couples.

"If they had a local service they could come and see me and have all the scans in Worcester... then have two trips to Oxford to collect the eggs and then to put the baby back in the womb.

"Under the current process they have to go to Birmingham for all of it... taking time off work for scans during treatment.

"We could do the scans at 8am before their working day starts and they would be able to work for 9am."

Mr Hughes said he has been speaking to health bosses for over 18 months ago in an attempt to turn his clinic into an NHS provider.

He said he understands the pressure facing the NHS but called on Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to put the IVF contract out to tender.

A statement on the Oxford Fertility website states: "The Worcestershire Fertility satellite service is only available to self-funding patients, and NHS patients from Herefordshire. Unfortunately, Worcestershire NHS patients cannot be treated at Worcestershire Fertility."

A spokesman for Worcestershire CCGs, which buy local health services, said they currently commission IVF services from Birmingham Women's Hospital and Birmingham's Priory Hospital.

The CCGs are looking at their commissioning arrangements to ensure patients continue to have the best access to treatment.

The spokesman added: "There remain only a limited number of providers in the region due to the specialised nature of the work.

"We are aware of these other providers and are looking at our commissioning arrangements for fertility services with a view to ensuring that patients continue to have access to the best treatment.”