Plans for publicly-funded IVF service in State hospitals to be announced

Ireland and Lithuania only two EU countries not to offer state funding for assisted reproduction

Plans to provide a publicly-funded IVF service in State hospitals for the first time are to be announced on Thursday.

Plans to provide a publicly-funded IVF service in State hospitals for the first time are to be announced on Thursday.

 

Plans to provide a publicly-funded IVF service in State hospitals for the first time are to be announced on Thursday.

The service is likely to come into operation in 2021 after legislation on assisted human reproduction is passed.

Other fertility services currently available in public hospitals are to be widened next year as part of a €2 million initiative while the publicly funded IVF system is awaited.

Ireland and Lithuania remain the only two EU countries not to offer state funding for assisted reproduction.

Minister for Health Simon Harris is to announce the establishment of regional hubs across the country to provide fertility services. The public IVF programme is to be established after a regulatory system is put in place once the assisted human reproduction legislation makes its way through the Oireachtas.

Funding for the IVF service is expected to be included in the HSE’s spending estimates when they are drawn up next autumn.

Mr Harris is due to update the Cabinet on Thursday on the drafting of a legislative framework for assisted human reproduction.

Private system

Advanced assisted reproduction treatment such as IVF is not available in the public health care system at present but is accessed through the private system.

It is estimated that one in four couples in Ireland struggle trying to have children, with private IVF treatment costs running into the thousands of euro.

Mr Harris will tell Cabinet the initial focus will be placed on building up services at secondary care level, where it is estimated that 50 per cent to 70 per cent of patients presenting with infertility issues could be managed, without the need to undergo invasive IVF treatment.

He is expected to confirm that €2 million will be spent supporting access to consultation and diagnostics for men and women experiencing fertility difficulties. A source said that this is the “first step in the roll-out of the model of care for infertility”.