The British Fertility Society (BFS) welcomes the publication of the National Infertility Group Report outlining key recommendations for couples seeking IVF treatment in Scotland. In a move which effectively eradicates the ‘postcode lottery’ in Scotland and provides a standardised approach to fertility treatment, the British Fertility Society is delighted by the Scottish Government’s commitment to equity of access and heralds the adoption of the report’s recommendations as a catalyst for the rest of the United Kingdom to follow suit.
The report will see all eligible patients in Scotland granted access to two full cycles of IVF treatment within 12 months of being accepted, as from 1 July 2013, with the aim of increasing this to three full cycles following a review scheduled for March 2015. In addition to the recommendations made in the report women aged 40 to 42 will also be offered one free cycle of treatment provided they meet specific criteria.
The report by the National Infertility Group contained detailed modelling information about the provision of IVF services and it is noteworthy that 3.5% of all first births in Scotland are now following IVF treatment. However, it is clear that provision of funding for IVF in Scotland has to date been too low when compared to the rest of the United Kingdom and the BFS also welcomes the recent announcement of a £12 million investment package to reduce waiting times to less than one year.
British Fertility Society spokesperson Alison McTavish said:
“The report from the National Infertility Group is to be welcomed and we applaud the positive steps taken to widen the availability of treatment for childless couples and their commitment to ensuring a fair fertility service throughout Scotland by the Scottish Government. This report will ensure that Scotland’s fertility services across all 14 health boards will be firmly person-centred and provided to patients in an equitable, effective and safe way irrespective of geographical restrictions.”
British Fertility Society Chairman Allan Pacey said:
“We are delighted to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to remove the postcode lottery and provide equitable access across its health boards. Also the investment of new funds to reduce the waiting list is very welcome and should be good news for IVF patients in Scotland.”
Criteria for treatment under the new recommendations: The female partner should initiate treatment before their 40th birthday however women aged between 40 and 42 who have never had IVF before and who meet all other criteria can be offered one cycle of treatment should it be clinically indicated. All patients must have a BMI between 18.5 and 29 and be non-smoking for 3 months before treatment and continue to be non smoking during treatment which will have an impact on both treatment and obstetric outcomes. Single embryo transfer strategies must be utilised in patients with good prognosis within provider Units.
Background information: Problems with fertility affect one in seven couples with a significant and unwelcome delay in either starting or completing their families and there are increasing numbers of women in the UK who have never had a child. These statistics carry with them a burden of psychological harm which is often disregarded. Fertility treatment however, has become a mainstream, normal part of healthcare which no longer carries the stigma or shame previously associated with it and which can relieve couples of that otherwise lifelong burden.
Notes for editors:
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The British Fertility Society is a national multidisciplinary organisation representing professionals practising in the field of reproductive medicine. The British Fertility Society is committed to promoting good clinical practice and working with patients to provide safe and effective fertility treatment. For general information, please visit our website: http://www.fertility.org.uk/
The January 2013 report can be downloaded from the website of the Scottish Government athttp://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/05/1501.
The May 2013 announcement by the Scottish Government can be viewed athttp://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2013/05/IVFservices15052013.