Waiting list for IVF in Scotland halved

Those who smoke and overweight women no longer referred for treatment since strict criteria introduced.
Embryo selection for IVF.Embryo selection for IVF.
Embryo selection for IVF.

Waiting lists for IVF in Scotland have more than halved since the Scottish Government moved to speed up the system and tighten up those who could access the treatment on the NHS.

Ministers acted to bring in reforms after research found vast differences in waiting times and the number of treatment cycles on offer across the country.

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New lifestyle criteria was introduced in May 2013 with men and women who smoke banned from proceeding with the treatment.

Women were told they must also have a BMI of between 18.5 and 30 in order to be referred.

In addition, the numbers of cycles offered were reduced in some areas to make all women in Scotland entitled to just two rounds of IVF or sperm injections.

As a result, The Scottish Government has now far exceeded its own targets with 100 per cent of women accessing IVF treatment within one year of being referred to one of Scotland’s four specialist centres.

Figures show a dramatic reduction in women waiting for their treatment to begin since the reforms.

In December 2012, a total of 1,672 women were waiting to begin treatment.

Two years later in December 2014, following the introduction of the new criteria, just 726 women were on the waiting list.

The Scottish Government spent £12m between September 2012 and 2015 to improve waiting times for women and their partners.

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In 2013, it was reported that patients treated at NHS Grampian waited the longest for IVF to begin, at three years and eight months.

More commonly, women and their partners waited between a year-and-a-half to two years.

Anecdotally, it has been suggested that women are now waiting for just six to eight months at some centres.

While some women are turned away to lose weight, they tend to be returned to the system when they meet the criteria, it is understood.

It is not clear how the new criteria had reduced the numbers of women coming into the system with this information not yet available.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The National Infertility Group is currently conducting a review of the implementation of the access criteria changes. Data is being collected for this review, which includes data on numbers.

“The National Infertility Group will then analyse the results and expects to make recommendations to Scottish Ministers early in 2016.”