The NHS board for the region of Fife in Scotland will no
longer provide fertility treatment to couples if either of them smokes, or if the
woman is overweight. The Board's announcement of its new policy came in the
same week as the Scottish Government pledged to invest £12 million over the
next three years to reduce waiting times for infertility treatment across
will receive up to two treatment cycles', Dr Brian Montgomery, NHS Fife medical
director told the BBC. 'Both partners must be non-smokers and the female body
mass index should be less than 30kg/m²'.
the new rules, which will come in to force on 1 October, Dr Montgomery told the
Herald Scotland: 'If a woman smokes or is exposed to secondary smoke there is
an increased likelihood that IVF treatment may be unsuccessful. Furthermore, smoking
or exposure to secondary smoke carries well-recognised risks for both the
unborn child and the mother. Stop-smoking support is available from couples
across the three community health partnerships in Fife'.
Fife joins NHS Forth Valley and NHS Borders as the third Scottish NHS
board to have a requirement for both partners to be non-smokers.
to the BBC, Gemma Burns, Scottish branch coordinator for the charity
Infertility Network UK, said the changes were 'bad news' for IVF patients.
She added that new national guidelines on fertility treatment were due to be published
by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence at the end of the
year.'To make this decision, without any consultation or warning, whilst we are so
close to the end of this important review, is beyond belief', said Burns.
Network UK has called on the Scottish Government to ask health boards to wait
for the new guidelines to come out before any changes are made to fertility
treatment policy. The charity also wants the government to offer potential IVF patients
who smoke more help to quit.
days after NHS Fife announced the changes, the Scottish Government pledged to
invest £12 million over the next three years to help cut waiting times for
fertility treatment. The money was allocated as
part of the Government's spending plans announced by the John Swinney, the
Scottish Finance Minister.
Michael Matheson, the Minister for Public Health, said: 'This funding will enable NHS boards to invest in their IVF
services, and will help to achieve our twelve month waiting times commitment, which
will ensure that eligible patients have equity of access for this treatment'.
will mean, for the first time ever in Scotland, all eligible patients will
receive treatment within twelve months of being diagnosed as requiring IVF'.
some NHS boards - including NHS Fife - have recently said that they will be
cutting the number of cycles patients can receive from three to two.