Failed IVF couples in Falkirk have to start again

childless couples in the Falkirk area go to the bottom of the queue if their first attempt at IVF fails.

NHS Forth Valley has defended its decision to return patients to the end of the waiting list following failed treatment cycles.

It comes as the number of referrals locally for IVF (In vitro fertilisation) increased six-fold in as many years.

Forth Valley, along with Fife and Tayside, were strongly criticised for the queue bumping in a report by Infertility Network Scotland.

It said the move was “extremely devastating” and was especially hard for older women who do not have much time to conceive.

But a spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said the health board followed guidance set out by the expert advisory group on infertility services in Scotland.

She said: “Since the number of requests for infertility treatment is increasing steadily year on year, our policy aims to ensure that couples get a first chance of IVF as quickly as possible.

“Research shows that couples have their best chance at a pregnancy in their first cycle.

“The chances of a successful cycle decreases with each additional treatment.”

In 2002-03 20 patients in Forth Valley were referred for IVF but this rose rapidly to 120 in 2009-10.

The report also revealed that local couples normally have to wait 14 to 18 months for IVF. The longest waiting time is in NHS Lothian at up to three years, whereas for patients in the Western Isles it is just four months.

In some parts of Scotland patients are entitled to three cycles of IVF, but Forth Valley is one of only four health boards where it is limited to two cycles.

One couple, who initially were treated at Falkirk Royal Infirmary before transferring to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, were not impressed by the service offered locally.

The woman, who gave birth to her son 18 months ago following treatment at Ninewells, said: “The difference in the way we were treated was night and day. I reacted badly to the drugs which were given in Falkirk but that was never recorded in my notes.

“When the same thing happened at Ninewells, they told us to go away to have a break and didn’t count that as one of our cycles.

‘‘But it was worrying at the time because the age limit was 35 and we were getting near that.”