THE Scottish Government should consider if infertile couples could have an additional cycle of IVF without this pushing up waiting times, a Holyrood committee has said.
MSPs on the Health Committee argued that now the wait for fertility treatment is down to less than a year across Scotland, ministers should look at upping the number of cycles people are entitled to receive on the NHS from two to three.
What is less clear is how this could be implemented without adversely affecting waiting times. This is why we’re calling on the Scottish Government to look into this issueDuncan McNeil
While couples where one partner has a child from a previous relationship living with them are not currently eligible for IVF on the NHS, the committee said a recommendation to change this should be “taken forward as a matter of urgency”.
The MSPs told public health minister Maureen Watt that this should be changed to allow couples to benefit from the treatment if one of them does not have a child in the house.
They made the plea after taking evidence on the provision of fertility services on the NHS.
Committee convener Duncan McNeil said: “It was clear from our evidence that NHS boards have improved significantly on waiting times for fertility treatment and that there is equity across the country.
“The committee heard that three cycles of IVF would give the best chance of success to the thousands of couples each year who rely on IVF to conceive.
“What is less clear is how this could be implemented without adversely affecting waiting times. This is why we’re calling on the Scottish Government to look into this issue.”
Mr McNeil has raised the issue in a letter to Ms Watt, telling her a report from the National Infertility Group had set out the “ultimate aim” of providing eligible couples with three cycles of IVF, adding that patient groups are now calling for this to be implemented.
Mr McNeil also said the National Infertility Group had recommended that the eligibility criteria be changed to “allow IVF where one partner does not have a child in the home that is genetically linked to them”.
The letter to Ms Watt added: “The committee is of the view that this recommendation should be taken forward as a matter of urgency.
“Whilst many of the eligibility criteria are based on factors likely to influence the success of treatment, this current criterion could be seen to be about prioritising couples based on perceived need.”
Deputy convener Bob Doris said the committee was “concerned about the strict criteria which excludes couples where one of the partners has a child living with them in the home”.
He added: “The committee is of the view that this should be revisited at the earliest opportunity by the National Infertility Group, with a view to extending provision.”