Infertile Scottish couples to get three chances of free IVF

The Scottish Government is to fund three cycles of NHS IVF treatment for eligible couples trying to start a family - more than is available in some parts of England and Wales.

Eligible couples will have three rounds of IVF funded by the government (file photo)
Eligible couples will have three rounds of IVF funded by the government (file photo)

Announcing the move, public health minister Aileen Campbell defended the spending at a time of pressure on accident and emergency departments and waiting times.

Ms Campbell told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We have always had a commitment towards ensuring there is as equitable access to IVF as there possibly can be and we had a number of recommendations presented to us that we accepted from the national infertility group.

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“One of these included ensuring that couples could get access to three cycles of IVF. That is today what we are taking forward.”

She added: “Scotland continues to lead the way in the provision of NHS IVF treatment and I’m really pleased that we’re ready to implement the second main recommendation from the National Infertility Group.

“For couples struggling to conceive it can be a very difficult time and IVF can provide an opportunity to help them have that longed-for baby.

“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.

“These changes make NHS IVF access in Scotland by far the fairest and most generous in the UK.”

Asked how she squared this with other demands on funding in the Scottish NHS, she said: “We have got a fairly strong record across Scotland on our NHS. Some of our A&Es have outperformed the lion’s share of England’s A&Es.

“We are outperforming A&Es across the UK and have done for some months. We have good investment levels in the NHS and we have record numbers of staff.

“We have got a commitment to our NHS that we will invest more money in our NHS than any of the other parties that stood in the election.”