NHS Fife to stop IVF for smokers and obeseNHS Fife in Scotland has announced it will refuse fertility treatment to patients who smoke or overweight.
The restrictions will apply from 1st October 2012, stopping couples where either partner smokes or the female is overweight, from applying for the costly treatment.
Reduce waiting times
A desire to cut waiting times that have stretched to three years was cited among reasons for the move. The number of IVF treatments available to couples who qualify will also be cut from three to two.
An IVF treatment, otherwise known as a “cycle”, costs the NHS up to £5,000.
The announcement sparked condemnation from charity Infertility Network (IN), which questioned why the decision had been made now, given a review of the IVF system is due to be completed in December. Recommendations from the review, which has been carried out by the National Infertility Group and is three years in the making, will be presented to the Scottish Government. Gwenda Burns, Scottish branch co-ordinator for IN, said: “For a health board to make such a jump and cut patient provision is shocking when there’s going to be new recommendations coming out. “We’ve had other health boards saying they will wait for the recommendations, but there’s always the fear that if Fife have been able to do it and they’ve been able to cut provision that other health boards will see that they can just cut patient provision the same [way].”
More IVF funding
NHS Fife medical director Dr Brian Montgomery said an extra £100,000 had been committed to infertility treatment over the next financial year and would result in 28 more cycles being carried out than in 2011-12. Dr Montgomery said: “Treatment criteria have been revised to improve the success of the treatment and the outcomes for mothers and babies. Patients will receive up to two treatment cycles. Both partners must be non-smokers and the female body mass index should be less than 30kg/m2.”
Lothian IVF restrictions
Similar restrictions were introduced by NHS Lothian in 2010. Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lothian, said: “We do not currently require the patient’s partner to be a non-smoker to go on the waiting list, but we are increasing the packages of support available to couples preparing for and undergoing fertility treatment.”
Standard IVF criteria recommended
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “IVF guidelines are currently determined by each individual NHS board. “However, the National Infertility Group will make recommendations to ministers in December 2012 on standard access criteria for all NHS boards to ensure equal access across the country.”