Ex-MP Ann Widdecombe slams Tunbridge Wells fertility clinic for offering discounted IVF treatment as prize
The South East Fertility
Clinic is offering discounts on IVF treatment as a prize
by Nisha Chopra
A Kent fertility clinic offering discounts on IVF
treatment to couples in a prize draw has been
slammed by former MP Ann Widdecombe.
The ex-Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald branded the
stunt "appalling" and "unethical".
The South East Fertility Clinic, in Tunbridge Wells, is
celebrating its fifth anniversary by giving would-be parents the
chance to win a £1,000 discount on IVF treatment plus a free
consultation with a doctor.
A team of promoters will be handing out 5,000 leaflets at
Tunbridge Wells railway station and other locations in the town
from today with details on how couples can enter the prize
But former Home Office minister Miss Widdecombe, pictured
left, said: "IVF is something you have after a lot of
consultation. 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
The clinic said the idea behind the competition is for
couples to join in their celebratory year – as well as raising
awareness about infertility.
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
But Miss Widdecombe disagreed, calling it "dangerous territory"
to offer any medical treatment as a prize.
She added: "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
"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."
Private fertility clinic SEFC is based in Amberly House, in
Queen's Road, Tunbridge Wells.
It says it
offers couples diagnosis, IVF treatment and donor insemination. An
IVF treatment cycle at the clinic costs £3,000 while other
procedures cost up to £7,000.
The clinic said it is expecting to
mark another milestone before the end of the year - the birth of
the 1,000th baby conceived through its treatment.
A statement from the clinic said: "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."
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