Page URL:

Funding boost for IVF in Scotland but smokers and overweight denied treatment in Fife

1 October 2012
Appeared in BioNews 675

The NHS board for the region of Fife in Scotland will no longer provide fertility treatment to couples if either of them smokes, or if the woman is overweight. The Board's announcement of its new policy came in the same week as the Scottish Government pledged to invest £12 million over the next three years to reduce waiting times for infertility treatment across Scotland.

'Patients will receive up to two treatment cycles', Dr Brian Montgomery, NHS Fife medical director told the BBC. 'Both partners must be non-smokers and the female body mass index should be less than 30kg/m²'.

Justifying the new rules, which will come in to force on 1 October, Dr Montgomery told the Herald Scotland: 'If a woman smokes or is exposed to secondary smoke there is an increased likelihood that IVF treatment may be unsuccessful. Furthermore, smoking or exposure to secondary smoke carries well-recognised risks for both the unborn child and the mother. Stop-smoking support is available from couples across the three community health partnerships in Fife'.

NHS Fife joins NHS Forth Valley and NHS Borders as the third Scottish NHS board to have a requirement for both partners to be non-smokers.

Talking to the BBC, Gemma Burns, Scottish branch coordinator for the charity Infertility Network UK, said the changes were 'bad news' for IVF patients.

She added that new national guidelines on fertility treatment were due to be published by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence at the end of the year.'To make this decision, without any consultation or warning, whilst we are so close to the end of this important review, is beyond belief', said Burns.

Infertility Network UK has called on the Scottish Government to ask health boards to wait for the new guidelines to come out before any changes are made to fertility treatment policy. The charity also wants the government to offer potential IVF patients who smoke more help to quit.

Two days after NHS Fife announced the changes, the Scottish Government pledged to invest £12 million over the next three years to help cut waiting times for fertility treatment. The money was allocated as part of the Government's spending plans announced by the John Swinney, the Scottish Finance Minister.

Michael Matheson, the Minister for Public Health, said: 'This funding will enable NHS boards to invest in their IVF services, and will help to achieve our twelve month waiting times commitment, which will ensure that eligible patients have equity of access for this treatment'.

'This will mean, for the first time ever in Scotland, all eligible patients will receive treatment within twelve months of being diagnosed as requiring IVF'.

Nonetheless, some NHS boards - including NHS Fife - have recently said that they will be cutting the number of cycles patients can receive from three to two.

£12m boost to cut IVF waiting times
Stornoway Gazette |  23 September 2012
Couples who smoke banned from IVF treatment by NHS Fife
BBC News |  21 September 2012
Doctors defend denial of IVF treatment to smokers
Herald Scotland |  22 September 2012
Scottish IVF services get £12m to cut waiting times
BBC News |  23 September 2012
14 December 2020 - by BioNews 
This film documents a Progress Educational Trust event about the successes and experiences of Scottish fertility clinics...
30 March 2015 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A charity has called for all NHS Boards in Scotland to move towards offering eligible patients three full cycles of IVF...
20 May 2013 - by Ruth Retassie 
The Scottish government has approved criteria which include new restrictions on access to state-funded IVF but which also aim to end the 'postcode lottery' faced by many couples with fertility problems...
21 January 2013 - by Nicky Hudson and Lorraine Culley 
When we set out over ten years ago to carry out research about infertility within British South Asian communities, little was known about how involuntary childlessness and its possible resolution with assisted conception was experienced by members of minority ethnic communities in the UK...
9 July 2012 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
The funding of fertility treatment in the UK is among the lowest in Europe, according to a new study presented at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting in Istanbul...
16 January 2012 - by Jessica Ware 
The number of publicly funded IVF cycles dropped by nearly 14 percent this financial year in the UK, an investigation by the GP magazine Pulse has revealed...
23 May 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
NHS South West Essex has reinstated funding for IVF seven months after suspending the service. The move comes after the PCT reduced running costs by £400,000 last year to financially break even...
14 February 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
Public health minister Anne Milton has said NHS Primary Care Trust's should follow existing guidelines and offer three cycles of IVF to eligible couples....
29 October 2009 - by Ben Jones 
The Labour party is urging the Scottish parliament to take action to standardise IVF provision across Scotland, after Labour MSP Jackie Baillie discovered wide disparities in provision between the 11 Scottish NHS boards. Ms Baillie contacted all of the boards after having been approached by a constituent who was upset about the length of IVF waiting lists where they lived....
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.