IVF Provision in Scotland

ScotlandIn 2013, the Scottish Health Minister approved the nation’s first universal list of criteria for couples wishing to access fertility services. Scotland’s National Infertility Group – a group of experts, including patient representatives that Fertility Fairness works with very closely, recommended the criteria, listed below.

From April 2017, the Scottish government will fund three cycles of IVF for eligible couples, an increase in access from previously offered two cycles. The move follows recommendations made by the National Infertility Group in a report to ministers last year.

The ending of local variations in funding, the introduction of new criteria and a new HEAT target on waiting lists are all welcome developments but we need to ensure that the importance of providing three full cycles of treatment remains a priority for the Scottish Government which is why we will continue to raise awareness of this important issue in the Scottish Parliament and amongst national policy makers.

In September 2016, Scotland introduced changes to widen its access to fertility treatment. These changes mean that couples where one partner does not have a biological child will be eligible for IVF access, even if there are children in the home. This is the first recommendation to be implemented from the National Infertility Group report published in June.

The Scottish Government also again surpassed its target for IVF, with all but one eligible patient (99.7%) screened for IVF treatment within 365 days across Scotland within 12 months of being referred, during the quarter ending June 2016.

IVF Criteria in Scotland

  • Eligible patients may be offered up to three cycles of IVF/ICSI where there is a reasonable expectation of a live birth.
  • Both partners must be non-smoking for at least 3 months before treatment and continue to be non-smoking during treatment.
  • Both partners must abstain from illegal and abusive substances.
  • Both partners must be Methadone free for at least one year prior to treatment.
  • Neither partner should drink alcohol prior to or during the period of treatment.
  • BMI of female partner must be above 18.5 and below 30.
  • Neither partner to have undergone voluntary sterilisation, even if sterilisation reversal has been self-funded.
  • NHS funding will not be provided to couples where either partner has already received the number of NHS funded IVF treatment cycles supported by NHS Scotland regardless of where in the UK they received treatment.
  • No individual (male or female) can access more than the number of NHS funded IVF treatment cycles supported by NHS Scotland under any circumstances, even if they are in a new relationship.
  • Fresh cycles of treatment must be initiated by the date of the female partner’s 40th birthday, and all subsequent frozen transfers must be complete before the woman’s 41st birthday.
  • Couples must have been co-habiting in a stable relationship for a minimum of 2 years.
  • NHS funding may be given to those patients who have previously paid for IVF treatment, if in the treating clinician’s view, the individual clinical circumstances warrant further treatment.
  • Patients should not be placed at the end of the waiting list following an unsuccessful treatment cycle.

For couples where the woman is aged from 40 to 42 one full cycle will be offered if:

  • They have never previously had IVF treatment
  • There is no evidence of poor ovarian reserve and if, in the treating clinician’s view it is in the  patients’ interest
  • There has been a discussion of the additional implications of IVF and pregnancy at this age.