Government vows to cut waits for IVF

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Falkirk couples scheduled for fertility treatment will soon wait a maximum of one year for treatment.

Currently, would-be parents can be on NHS waiting lists for up to three years.

But a new promise from the Scottish Government will means that, from March 2015, everyone who qualifies for IVF treatment will have the procedure within 12 months.

IVF treatment can be a postcode lottery with couples in the NHS Forth Valley area waiting two years for treatment - up from 16 months in 2009/10. People in the Grampian region are currently waiting three years while in the Shetland Isles the wait is just 6-8 weeks and in Lanarkshire eight months.

The cost of reducing the waiting times is an estimated £700,000 for NHS Forth Valley. However, funding from the Scottish Government should cover the increase.

One young Falkirk couple, who have been on the IVF waiting list for almost a year, said the plans are great news.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said they had been trying to conceive for four years before being approved for IVF so were anxious to get treatment right away.

They were disappointed to learn that they would still have years to wait.

She said: “It’s heartbreaking, especially when it feels like everyone around you is getting pregnant.

“The plans to reduce the waiting lists are fantastic. Obviously it will be too late for us, we’ll have reached the top of the list by then. But for others going through the same process it will be reassuring.”

The Scottish Government initiative has been backed by £12 million of funding for Scottish IVF services.

Minister for Public Health and MSP for Falkirk West, Michael Matheson, said: “There is a great demand for fertility treatment and we know it can be very upsetting for patients to have to wait for treatment, especially when the amount of time couples wait for treatment can vary across the country.

“This will mean, for the first time ever in Scotland, all eligible patients will receive treatment within 12 months of being diagnosed as requiring IVF”.

In the Forth Valley area, couples travel to Tayside for treatment. However, they are entitled to only two cycles of IVF while Tayside families get three.

A spokesperson for NHS Forth Valley said: “NHS Forth Valley has been aware of the Scottish Government’s commitment for some time and over the last year we have developed plans to help us work towards meeting this new target.

“We recently increased the number of IVF cycles available by over 50 per cent and we will continue to explore ways to further reduce waiting times for this service over the next three years.

“This is likely to require further investment in the region of £700,000, however the exact amount will depend on the numbers of patients who are referred for IVF treatment which will vary annually.”