Timeframe announced for publicly funded fertility treatment
I welcome news today that the first National Advanced Assisted Human Reproduction Centre, delivering IVF and ICSI through a wholly public clinic is scheduled to open in the early part of 2024 with a nationwide reach.
I am fully committed to ensuring that infertility issues are addressed through the public health system. I welcome the update from Minister Donnelly that Phase One, the roll-out of fully operational Regional Fertility Hubs is on track for completion by the end of this year. I welcome the expansion of their scope of services next year to include the provision of IUI (intrauterine insemination), a significant, yet less complex and less intrusive, component of Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) treatment.
Regional Fertility Hubs, one in Nenagh General Hospital, one in Galway, 3 in Dublin and one in Cork, aim to maximise the outcome for women and their partners by offering an assessment and management service on-site that will streamline the process and minimise delays in access to fertility services. Patients are referred, if they meet the relevant criteria, by their GPs to their local Hub.
Phase Two of the roll-out of the publicly funded Model of Care will see the introduction of tertiary infertility services, including IVF, provided through the public health system. Funding was secured for this in Budget 2023 and will facilitate the first steps to be taken towards the provision of a complete publicly-provided fertility service, which is the ultimate objective of Government.
In particular, it will allow the historic development of the first National Advanced AHR Centre, delivering IVF and ICSI through a wholly public clinic. This is scheduled to open in the early part of 2024. I particularly welcome the nationwide aspect to this service, as I am committed to tackling disadvantage by virtue of geographical location. All six Regional Fertility Hubs will have equity of access for onward referral to it, via a shared care pathway.
I welcome news that some funding be made available to support access to advanced AHR treatment via private providers from September 2023. I understand this can’t come quick enough for some: Department of Health officials are planning for the operationalisation of both the publicly- and privately- provided service, including the development of a national eligibility framework, as well as determining how the interim funding for private treatments will be provided to individual eligible patients.
Subject to the provision of additional funding in future, I will continue to advocate for further National Advanced AHR Centres to be developed and become operational on a phased basis, including the Midlands.