About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides an update on how long eligible patients waited from referral to screening appointment for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment by the NHS in Scotland. The standard is for 90% of eligible patients to be screened at an IVF Centre within 52 weeks of receipt of referral from a secondary care/acute consultant.

Main points

During the quarter ending 30 June 2021:

  • The 90% standard was met. Of those screened for treatment, all patients were screened within 52 weeks from referral.
  • There were 340 eligible patients screened for IVF treatment compared to 353 patients screened during the previous quarter ending 31 March 2021. This is slightly lower (7.4%) than the 367 patients screened on average during quarters in 2019, just prior to the start of the pandemic.
  • The proportion of patients who had waited 39 weeks or less to be screened was 99.4%, increasing from 77.6% during the previous quarter. The proportion who had waited 26 weeks or less was 43.2%, a decrease from 52.4%.
Image caption Percentage distribution of waiting times for eligible patients who were screened for IVF treatment across Scotland by quarter, January 2018 – June 2021
Percentage distribution of waiting times for eligible patients who were screened for IVF treatment across Scotland by quarter, January 2018 – June 2021
  • There were 270 referrals received by the four IVF Centres across Scotland, 14.8% lower than the 317 referrals received in the previous quarter ending 31 March 2021 and 11.5% lower than the quarterly average in 2019.
  • By the end of the quarter there were 700 eligible patients waiting to be screened compared to 755 patients waiting at 31 March 2021. The recent reduction in the number of patients waiting reflects reduced referrals across Scotland with a continued steady number of screening appointments. However, the number waiting is 12.7% higher than the quarterly average (621) in 2019, prior to the pandemic.
  • Of those patients waiting to be screened at the end of the quarter, 99.9% had been waiting 39 weeks or less from referral, the same level as 31 March 2021. However, there was a decrease in the proportion who had been waiting 13 weeks or less (48.1% to 43%) and an increase in the proportion who had been waiting 14 to 26 weeks (36.3% to 42.9%).

Background

IVF is an effective method of assisted reproductive technology used to treat infertility. This includes intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for male infertility. Where this publication refers to IVF, it includes IVF and ICSI. One full cycle of IVF includes ovulation induction, egg retrieval, fertilisation, transfer of fresh embryos, followed by freezing of suitable embryos and subsequent replacement of these provided the couple still fulfil the access criteria.

Each of the 14 territorial NHS boards in Scotland commissions cycles of IVF from one of the four specialist tertiary centres providing NHS treatment (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow).

As with many other NHS Scotland services the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has affected the ability of the four Scottish IVF centres to deliver treatment, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic when all treatment was paused briefly. Since then, the IVF Centres have been remobilising their services and have remained open for treatment up to 30 June 2021.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 30 November 2021.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.ivf@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 23 August 2021
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