Belfast Telegraph

IVF treatment available on public health service by 2021, vows minister

Simon Harris announced a 2 million euro support plan to help people with fertility issues.

Health Minister Simon Harris during a press conference to announce plans to roll out a model of dare for infertility (PA)
Health Minister Simon Harris during a press conference to announce plans to roll out a model of dare for infertility (PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

IVF will be available to couples on the public health service by 2021, Health Minister Simon Harris has said.

The minister announced a new 2 million euro support plan to help people with fertility issues access public service consultations.

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

Under existing rules, advanced human reproduction treatment such as IVF is only available through the private healthcare system in the Republic of Ireland and costs thousands.

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

Mr Harris said it is estimated up to 50-70% of people with fertility issues could be managed by other healthcare services without the need to undergo “invasive” IVF treatment.

He said the move towards publicly funded fertility treatment is the “first step in the roll-out of the model of care for infertility”.

He said two regional fertility hubs will be set up next year for couples seeking advice.

He said: “The model of care will have three components – going to the GP will be the first port of call and the second will be the creation of regional fertility hubs, one in each of our maternity networks  – starting with Dublin and Cork.

“The third will be the development of tertiary facilities within the public health service where you can access IVF.

“We’ve decided to go ahead in 2020 with two million euros worth of investment in the establishment of these new regional hubs. These are regional hubs where people will be able to go and be assessed by consultants and they can access diagnostics.

“Realistically I think you’re looking at 2021 in terms of IVF being available through the public health service and being publicly funded.

Mr Harris said eligibility grounds for IVF funding will be agreed next year.

PA

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