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Innovative treatment in action

Published: 24 Nov 2015 13:22
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Public Health Minister visits Assisted Conception Unit in Edinburgh.

Innovative technology is delivering improvements for women receiving IVF treatment in Scotland.

Scottish Government investment of more than £18 million has meant that for the second consecutive quarter (ending September 2015), 100 per cent of patients waiting on IVF treatment in Scotland were seen within 12 months. The target was delivered ahead of schedule in March.

This morning, Public Health Minister Maureen Watt visited NHS Lothian's Assisted Conception Unit to see the technology at work.

Staff at Edinburgh Fertility Reproductive Endocrine Centre (EFREC) demonstrated the EmbryoScope installed there last year.

The Scottish Government provided funding for all four NHS Assisted Conception Units to purchase EmbryoScopes which allow Embryologists to select the 'best' single embryo for implantation. This reduces the chance of multiple pregnancies and is likely to increase pregnancy rates.

The funding was part of Scottish Government investment of more than £12 million over three financial years to 2014/15, specifically to reduce IVF waiting times. To ensure waiting times remain at 12 months or less, a further £6 million has been allocated to IVF funding during 2015/16.

Ms Watt said: "Scotland is leading the way in the provision of NHS IVF treatment and I am delighted to see first-hand some of the amazing work being done in this field.

"It's quite fascinating to watch the EmbryoScope being used to select the best embryo for treatment, which potentially increases the chance of successful treatment for couples who need fertility treatment.

"The implementation and early achievement of this target was fantastic, but to reach 100 per cent for two consecutive quarters is truly to be celebrated.

"Our £18 million investment has had a dramatic effect, with patients from all 14 NHS Boards starting treatment in one of the four NHS IVF centres in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, within 12 months.

"The additional funding this year means that we can continue to meet our waiting times targets and give patients in Scotland access to a more generous and fairer service than elsewhere in the UK."

Notes to editors

Reducing waiting times for IVF patients potentially improves the chance of a successful outcome.

The Scottish Government determined that the IVF waiting times target should be delivered for at least 90 per cent of patients from 1 April 2015, as for some it may not be clinically appropriate for treatment to begin within 12 months.

The Scottish Government's National Infertility group has reconvened to consider increasing the number of cycles offered from two to three; and current recommendations related to couples who already have a child in the home.

A report is expected during early 2016.

Latest waiting times figures are available here: