‘Budgetary pressures’ restricting IVF access

Mark H Durkan.
Mark H Durkan.

SDLP Health Spokesperson, Mark H Durkan, has called for a review of access to IVF Treatment for people here, after being told there was no money to implement guidelines.

Mr. Durkan was speaking after receiving a response from Permanent Health Secretary Richard Pengelly stating that despite expert recommendations that women should be offered three cycles of IVF, “regrettably” it has not been possible for the Health and Social Care Board to do this.

“Currently, here in the North, couples and prospective parents only have access to one cycle of IVF treatment,” Mr Durkan said. “It is an accepted fact, indeed NICE approved guidelines state, that three cycles is the optimum number to maximise the chance of conception. I have written to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health on this and, while he accepts the need for access to more IVF Treatment, he states budgetary factors as to why this can’t be done. I will be seeking clarification on what the Department calculates that these costs might be and also if they have made any calculation of the cost to people - financially,emotionally and mentally - caused by the current situation.”

Mr. Durkan said there is cross-party support for improvements in care. “It is important that people so passionate and determined to give the gift if their love to a baby are given equal opportunity to do so as they would get if they lived in Scotland.’’

Mr. Pengelly said that the Department is continuing to examine “all practical options” for extending the service currently offered.