Catherine Noone, Dublin Senator and Fine Gael candidate for Dublin West, has called on the Government to cover IVF treatment under the state’s medical system.
Ireland is currently one of only three countries in the EU where fertility treatments are not funded by the state. The World Health Organisation recognises infertility as a disease and yet it is the only medical condition that isn’t covered under our public health system.
Senator Noone pointed out that even plastic surgery is on the public system here currently. She said:
“I believe the current system is unfair as many Irish couples cannot afford the €4,000 to €6,000 fee per cycle of IVF treatment. This discriminates against lower income couples with fertility problems, who wish to start a family, but are not in a financial position to afford IVF treatment.”
According to Dr. Mary Wingfield, consultant obstetrician gynaecologist at Holles Street and director of Merrion Fertility Clinic, one in six Irish couples have infertility, and at least half of them will need IVF.
Senator Noone said that in Scotland and Wales couples are entitled to NHS-funded cycles of IVF regardless of income while couples in Northern Ireland are funded for one cycle.
“Those in England receive one, two or three cycles, depending on their postcode and Belgium has had it since the 1990s and the UK since the early 2000s.”
She expressed concern that the cost of IVF is forcing many Irish couples, who can’t afford it, to travel abroad to Eastern Europe and India, where guidelines and practices may not be as good and called on the the Department of Health to include fertility treatments under the state health system.