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Assisted Human Reproduction

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 3 November 2020

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Questions (147)

Neale Richmond


147. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health the status of and position regarding the publicly funded model of care for fertility treatment as promised in the Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33471/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy is aware, a commitment to introduce the model of care for infertility which was developed by officials in my Department in conjunction with the HSE’s National Women & Infants Health Programme is included in the Programme for Government, Our Shared Future. This model of care will ensure that infertility issues will be addressed through the public health system at the lowest level of clinical intervention necessary. It will comprise three stages, starting in primary care (i.e., GPs) and extending into secondary care (i.e., Regional Fertility Hubs) and then, where necessary, tertiary care (i.e., IVF and other advanced assisted human reproduction (AHR) treatments). Structured referral pathways will be put in place and patients will be referred onwards for further investigations or treatment as required and as clinically appropriate. It is intended that, in line with available resources, this model of care for infertility will be rolled out on a phased basis over the course of the coming years.

Phase One of the roll-out of the model of care involves the establishment, at secondary care level, of Regional Fertility Hubs in maternity networks. which will facilitate the management of a significant proportion of patients presenting with infertility issues. The initial funding provided to commence Phase One in 2020 is being utilised specifically on the development of the first four of these Hubs, notwithstanding that the work had to be slowed due to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic within the health service. As I confirmed in public statements on the Budget, additional funding is being made available in 2021 to set up the final two Regional Fertility Hubs and facilitate the continuation and completion of Phase One of the roll-out of the model of care.

Phase Two of the roll-out will see the introduction of tertiary infertility services, including IVF, in the public health system. Phase Two will not commence until such time as infertility services at secondary level have been developed across the country and the AHR legislation is commenced. Drafting of the AHR legislation is ongoing in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.

Overall, the implementation of the model of care will help to ensure the provision of safe, effective and accessible infertility services at all levels of the public health system as part of the full range of services available in obstetrics and gynaecology.