AQW 2156/22-27

Mr Paul Frew
Democratic Unionist Party
North Antrim

Tabled Date: 24/06/2022
Answered On Date: 05/07/2022
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of Health for an update on the provision of three funded cycles of IVF treatment, including timescales, as committed to in New Decade, New Approach.

I very much welcomed the commitment to a greater number of funded IVF cycles in the New Decade, New Approach, something which the Member may already be aware only came about after my Party specifically requested it. I established a Project Board in February 2020 to take the implementation of this commitment forward, although due to the demands of the pandemic on the HSC, the Project Board was unable to meet for the first time until April 2021. I have always been clear, however, that providing up to three cycles of IVF treatment for those who are eligible will require investment to enable the Regional Fertility Centre to deliver greater volumes of treatment. Work is ongoing to develop the necessary business case and implementation plan for this.
Once funding is in place, it is likely that a phased approach to firstly two, and then three cycles will be adopted. This is to ensure that the service is not overwhelmed by demand and that waiting lists do not increase significantly, as well as the need to ensure there is adequate capacity to deliver, including within the independent sector initially.
Once there is clarity on future funding and implementation, a Frequently Asked Questions guide will be developed to assist patients to understand the new arrangements, including eligibility. However, I can advise that there are no plans to change the IVF access criteria as laid out by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence.