The Scottish Conservatives have revealed that one of their main priorities is improving access to fertility treatment on Scotland's NHS. The party plans to set up a £5 million fund to help patients seeking treatment should they be elected into power. According to the Scotsman, the party hopes to end the unreliable service for couples seeking IVF treatment north of the border.
The proposals were unveiled as one of the top priorities of the party's manifesto as part of a 'family-friendly' package to win over voters before the 2011 elections. The party plans to pay for these services by reintroducing prescription charges for those not receiving benefits.
It is estimated that more than one in six Scottish couples have difficulty in conceiving. A freedom of information request in 2010 revealed that, since 2007, 78 percent of NHS Lothian fertility patients and 43 percent of Tayside patients were funding the treatment themselves.
Last year independent support group Infertility Network Scotland published a survey that showed that the waiting time for fertility treatment for NHS patients in Lothian was three years, whereas in Lanarkshire couples have to wait only six months. The group described getting IVF treatment on the NHS as a 'postcode lottery'.
'IVF may be the only source of hope to many couples wanting to start a family', Annabel Goldie MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said. 'It has to be at the heart of our NHS and the Scottish Conservatives want to be sure that all couples, regardless of where they live, have access to that care and advice'.