Cabinet Secretary responds to NHS Fife decision
Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, today admitted his frustration over a health board’s decision to deny IVF treatment to couples who smoke.
NHS Fife last week revealed changes set to be implemented as of next Monday that will see couples refused treatment if either of them are smokers or if the woman is judged to be overweight.
The announcement comes ahead of a review of guidelines on provision of IVF set to be published inside the next three months, a point raised in today’s topical questions by SNP MSP Roderick Campbell who enquired the government’s stance.
“The national infertility group’s report, with recommendations on eligibility criteria, is expected to be with ministers by the end of December 2012. My preference would have been for all health boards to consider the implications of the report before making any announcements,” Neil told the parliamentary chamber.
Asked by Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser whether the restriction was “just a cunning ploy for by NHS Fife to reduce its already very long waiting lists”, Neil added: “It should be recognised that NHS Fife has invested an additional £100,000 in reducing its waiting list. Other boards have considered restrictions but, as I say, I would much prefer that we moved together once the report is available in December and the expert group has made its recommendations.”
Last Sunday, the Scottish Government announced plans to devote £12m of funding over the next three years to help reduce waiting times for IVF treatment to a maximum of 12 months by March 2015.