Dept plans to fund IVF treatment next year

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has confirmed that his department plans to fund IVF fertility treatment for public patients in 2023.

Ireland is currently the only country in the EU that does not offer any State funding for assisted human reproduction.

Studies suggest that around one in every six couples will struggle to conceive a baby.

Clinical Director of the Merrion Fertility Clinic Professor Mary Wingfield said while she is delighted the issue is getting media coverage, there have been similar promises from other ministers, but nothing has happened in regard to public funding of treatments.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said there has been no contact from the Department of Health or the Health Service Executive about any impending funding system.

Prof Wingfield said it is a complicated process in figuring out financing of fertility treatment.

“It’s quite a complicated endeavour to fund IVF and to decide who will be eligible, and I’m not sure that any of those decisions have been made, and I’m certainly not aware of them or how it will be funded in Ireland, whether it will be that people will be funded to attend a private clinic or what the system will be.”

Fertility hubs have been set up around the country, Prof Wingfield said, but they are “really just starting off and in their infancy but at least it’s a move in the right direction and a commitment and an acknowledgement that there is a need for fertility treatment.”

She said the cost of IVF varies between each case but one cycle costs around €6,000. That can increase quickly depending on what treatment is needed, she added.

“Studies show that it’s as stressful as having cancer, so to compound that by adding in the financial stress just really makes it so hard for people.”

Prof Wingfield said she would suggest that people do not wait for this funding to come through as it is unlikely that it will be available early next year.

“I can’t see it happening in January 2023, so most people who have fertility issues have already been trying to get pregnant for two or three years, and to have to wait another two or three years is just not an option.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said that the minister plans to fund IVF for public patients in 2023 and has discussed these plans with the HSE.

In a statement, the spokesperson said that the Government has prioritised funding for women’s healthcare, with €31 million committed to new development in women’s health in Budget 2022.