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NHS Scotland to offer three cycles of IVF

27 March 2017
Appeared in BioNews 894

New patients referred for infertility treatment by their doctors will now have access to three cycles of IVF on the NHS in Scotland.

'We want to make access to treatment on the NHS as fair as possible - giving more people the opportunity to conceive. Over the last five years we have invested around £24 million to reduce IVF waiting times and improve the outcomes for couples' said Aileen Campbell, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health.

Following two recommendations by the National Infertility Group last summer, Scottish Government Ministers decided to implement the change which is believed to be both cost- and clinically effective. By doing so, Scotland becomes the first part of the UK to fulfil National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on IVF availability.

Since 1 September 2016, people in Scotland who have children living with them but where one partner does not have a biological child can access IVF. As of 1 April 2017, women under 40 who have not previously undergone IVF treatment will qualify for three cycles. Women aged 40 to 42 may access one full IVF cycle, which includes implantation of fresh embryos and any resultant frozen embryos.

'We commend the Scottish Government both for recognising the importance of treating this medical condition, and for taking action to help the one-in-six couples affected by infertility,' said Sarah Norcross, co-chair of Fertility Fairness and director of Progress Educational Trust.

The offer of three IVF cycles is in stark contrast to what is currently available to patients in most other parts of the UK. Many Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England have reduced IVF provision and some have abolished funding entirely (see BioNews 893) leading to accusations of a 'postcode lottery' (See BioNews 881).

'In Wales and Northern Ireland, while there is equity of provision in terms of the number of cycles offered and the access criteria around children from previous relationships, nobody with fertility problems can access three funded IVF cycles. In Wales, affected individuals are offered two funded cycles of fertility; in Northern Ireland, only one funded IVF cycle is offered', commented Sarah Norcross.

Gold standard: Scotland the first country to provide 3 NHS-funded IVF cycles for all eligible couples
Fertility Network UK |  24 March 2017
Increasing access to IVF
Scottish Government (press release) |  24 March 2017
Infertile Scottish couples to get three chances of free IVF
The Scotsman |  24 March 2017
NHS funded IVF treatment: how Scotland compares to rest of UK
iNews |  24 March 2017
Scottish government to fund three IVF cycles on NHS
BBC News |  24 March 2017
14 December 2020 - by BioNews 
This film documents a Progress Educational Trust event about the successes and experiences of Scottish fertility clinics...
6 November 2017 - by Sarah Norcross 
Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust and Co-Chair of the campaigning organisation Fertility Fairness, speaks on TV and radio about worsening access to publicly funded IVF...
23 October 2017 - by Dr Michelle Rodgers 
Equity and access are among the most urgent issues for medically assisted reproduction. According to Ireland's Health Research Board, across Europe six countries offer full public funding, and 19 countries offer partial public funding...
16 October 2017 - by Jen Willows 
IVF services in Northern Ireland have had a reprieve, but cuts will go ahead in parts of Hertfordshire...
11 September 2017 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group has removed funding for free IVF treatment, despite being the county where the procedure was first developed 40 years ago...
20 March 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Croydon has become the first Clinical Commissioning Group in London to cut funding for all IVF treatment, other than in 'exceptional circumstances'...
12 December 2016 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
Only 16 percent of Clinical Commissioning Groups in England follow the national guidance on access to NHS fertility treatment, according to an audit by campaign group Fertility Fairness...
26 September 2016 - by Lone Hørlyck 
Thirteen Clinical Commissioning Groups are considering making cuts to IVF funding, potentially removing the procedure on the NHS in some areas...
20 June 2016 - by Stephen Harbottle 
Since its launch in 1948, the NHS has become the world's largest publicly funded health service and a beacon of what is possible to the rest of the world. Unless, it seems, you are finding it hard to conceive...
13 June 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Scotland is set to expand the provision of publicly funded IVF, increasing the number of cycles for eligible patients from two to three...
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