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 a referral from a secondary care/acute consultant.

Main points

During the quarter ending 31 March 2022:

  • 430 patients attended an IVF screening appointment, a substantial increase compared to the previous quarter (364 patients) and the average of all quarters of 2019 (367 patients).
  • the 90% standard was met and in fact, there have been no patients screened who waited over 52 weeks since the quarter ending 30 September 2020.
  • 99.8% of patients waited 39 weeks or less with half of the patients screened within 26 weeks, similar to the previous quarter.
Image caption Number of eligible patients referred, screened and waiting to be screened across Scotland, January 2018 - March 2022
  • 382 patients were referred to IVF Centres, an increase of 17.5% compared to the previous quarter (325 referrals). Across Scotland, referral levels remain 4.7% lower than the average of all quarters of 2019 (401 referrals), with referral levels now exceeding pre-pandemic levels at the Aberdeen and Edinburgh IVF Centres.
  • 681 patients were waiting to attend a screening appointment, 9.3% fewer than at 31 December 2021 (751 patients). The waiting list remains 9.7% higher than the average at quarter ends during 2019 (621 patients). Across the four IVF Centres, only the Glasgow IVF Centre waiting list is higher than their pre-pandemic average.

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).

The COVID-19 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 remobilised their services and remained open for treatment up to 31 March 2022. Patients not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 were temporarily deferred from fertility treatment following a recommendation and review by the Chief Medical Officer.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 30 August 2022.

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: 06 October 2022
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