Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly has announced that fully publicly-funded assisted human reproduction (AHR) treatment will commence in September.
Eligible patients will be entitled to one full cycle of IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment, initially provided in HSE-approved private clinics of their choice ahead of the opening next year of the first public National Advanced AHR Centre.
The Minister has also set out details of eligibility criteria which sets parameters in respect of the ages of the intending parents, the female patient’s body mass index (BMI), the number of existing children and the number of previous IVF cycles accessed. Patients with known clinical causes of infertility and patients where there is no known clinical cause will be eligible for treatment.
The Department said that given the complex regulatory and clinical issues still to be addressed in respect of certain categories of AHR treatment, public funding of a number of specific services is being commenced on a structured and phased basis.
Therefore, treatment involving the use of donated gametes (sperm and eggs) will not be available in September for heterosexual or same-sex couples or single female patients. This treatment will become available as soon as possible.
Minister Donnelly said:
“Work is continuing on the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill which will ultimately allow us to improve accessibility to AHR treatments, while at the same time embedding safe and appropriate clinical practice and ensuring the cost-effective use of public resources.
“I look forward to progressing this Bill and to ultimately expanding advanced AHR services to wider categories so that we can help more people to fulfil their wish of starting a family.”
Under the Model of Care for Fertility, people with fertility-related issues should be treated through the public health service at the lowest level of intervention necessary.
In the first instance, people will present to their GP for a consultation and if appropriate they will be referred to their local Regional Fertility Hub, which provides a range of treatments and interventions for both males and females.
From September, where IVF, ICSI or IUI is clinically indicated, eligible patients will be referred by the Reproductive Medical Consultant in the Regional Fertility Hub for publicly-funded treatment in a HSE-approved private clinic of their choice.
Female patients who meet the criteria will be eligible for treatment if they have been referred by their GP to a regional fertility hub before their 41st birthday.
Eligibility criteria for patients accessing publicly-funded IVF, ICSI and IUI treatment:
- Individuals must be ordinarily resident in the State and referred through their GP to a Regional Fertility Hub. (no self-referring).
- Eligible couples must have no living children from the existing relationship and include at least one partner with no living child.
- Access to publicly-funded AHR treatment is available for those individuals who have previously undertaken a maximum of one previous IVF cycle and where all embryos created as part of that cycle have been used.
- A couple/ individual will not be eligible for publicly funded AHR treatment if either partner/individual has had voluntary sterilisation.
- To ensure the welfare of any children resulting from AHR treatment, an assessment will be carried out, based primarily upon a self-declaration form.
- There shall not be more than two intending parents of a child born as a result of AHR treatment and, they shall be in a relationship for at least one year.
- The intending birth mother should be a maximum age of 40 years plus 364 days at time of referral to Hub, while the maximum referring age for males is 59 years plus 364 days.
- The BMI of an intending birth mother must be within the range of 18.5 kg/m2 – 30.0 kg/m2
Guidance regarding lifestyle:
- Alcohol: Intending birth mother should have no more than one or two standard alcoholic drinks once or twice per week. Males should have no more than three to four standard alcoholic drinks per day, ideally 10 standard drinks or less over a week.
- Smoking: All intending parents should be non-smoking for at least three months. Recreational/Illegal
- Drugs: All intending parents should be non-users of recreational drugs for at least three months.