by Shayla Bulloch
WHAT should be one of the most joyous journeys of a couple's life together has turned into a nightmare for Mount Morgan's Steve and Mildred Ensby.
The couple's quest to have a child had been filled with heartache.
In the latest setback the couple claimed they had been left counting the cost of a ruling they said bumped up the financial expense of accessing the IVF treatment they desperately prayed would deliver them a child.
Mr Ensby, 38, said after unsuccessful attempts to have a baby naturally, the couple began researching the state's IVF clinics before deciding Primary IVF in the Brisbane suburb of Oxley was the best option for them.
This was mainly because of the bulk-billing capacity offered, which was not provided to the same extent by clinics closer to home.
A Primary IVF spokesperson said the clinic had a lot of rural couples travel there, desperately in need of fertility help.
However, with the facility some 650kms away from their home, Steve aired his frustration about what he said was a lack of government support to cover travel and accommodation costs.
Through it's Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme, Queensland Health agreed to cover the couple's costs for alternate treatment at a Bundaberg clinic that was deemed the closest with bulk-billing treatment options.
However, it ruled against the couple's request to travel and stay in Brisbane for treatment.
But, Steve said the bulk-billing capacity at the Bundaberg clinic operated in a different way to the one in Brisbane and would leave the couple further out of pocket.
"It's not our fault we don't live in Brisbane," Steve said.
"They have no idea what it's like to see your wife in tears after a miscarriage and now crying again, coming to the realisation that we will probably never have children.
"Our life is completely on hold."
He said if a bulk-billing clinic was available in Rockhampton it would ease a lot of heartache for couples in the region.
Steve said friends of his had spent more than $20,000 on private IVF treatment with no result.
"There's a huge demand for it up here," he said.
Executive Director at Rockhampton Hospital, Wendy Hoey, recognised it was a difficult time for the couple.
"I acknowledge that this is a difficult time for Mr and Mrs Ensby who are trying to start a family," Ms Hoey said.
"IVF treatment is available in Rockhampton, but we have taken into account the fact that care is not bulk billed and agreed to provide support under the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme to travel to the closest care provided with bulk billing.
"This decision has been reviewed and supported by the Department of Health in Brisbane."
In Australia, doctors are free to decide how much to charge for services, a report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman said.
The report stated fees vary because doctors take into account their particular costs in delivering services and may have differing views about what represents a reasonable return for their time and skill.
The Morning Bulletin yesterday sought clarity from the AMAQ about the apparent different approaches to bulk-billing and fee costs, however a spokesperson was unable to respond by deadline.
Steve, who has already appealed against the travel decision, said he wasn't sure whether he would appeal again.