NHS Lothian announce £300,000 funding pledge to improve fertility treatment

A FUNDING boost of £300,000 to improve fertility treatment on the NHS was announced by a health board yesterday, after recent complaints of a "postcode lottery".

NHS Lothian says the additional funding is part of a drive to cut waiting times, with 12-month reductions in some cases.

It emerged last year that couples in Lothian faced an average three-year wait for treatment - the longest in Scotland - according to figures obtained by Labour.

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But new guidelines have been drawn up by the board to ensure increased access for couples beginning infertility treatment.

Women up to the age of 40 will now be offered treatment by NHS Lothian, an extension of the age limit by two years.

Dr David Farquharson, clinical director of women's services, said: "We are confident this new funding and the introduction of new treatment guidelines will increase access for scores of women across Lothian.

"We are committed to ensuring that as wide a range of women as possible can undergo treatment with shorter waiting times.

"The new treatment protocol reflects current national guidance and will ensure that treatment is provided for women up to their 40th birthday."

Patients will undergo a maximum of two rounds of treatment and each round will normally commence with a fresh cycle.

Women should be non-smokers and have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 30 - down from 34. They can be referred to appropriate support services to help them meet the criteria.

"It is also well known that women who smoke and have a high BMI have less chance of successful fertility treatment," Dr Farquharson added.

"As a result, we will try to encourage women to give up the habit and lose weight before they undergo treatment, and we will be able to refer them to support services."