Scotland’s secret success reducing mental health problems – IVF

Image: First Step Fertility

From Public Health Scotland today:

The 90% standard was met during the quarter ending 30 September 2022, with 100% of patients attending a screening appointment within 52 weeks of referral.

https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/publications/ivf-waiting-times-in-scotland/ivf-waiting-times-in-scotland-quarter-ending-30-september-2022/

Other than in the pandemic period in 2020, the 90% target has been met consistently since records began in January 2018.

For comparison, I have been unable to find the most recent data because Public Health England do not seem to be recording it. However, this from 2019:

The updated NICE Clinical Fertility Guideline published on the 20th February 2013 recommends that women aged up to and including 39 should access three full cycles of IVF treatment; it also recommends that women aged between 40 and 42 who have never had IVF treatment and who do not have a low ovarian reserve should be able to access one full cycle of IVF. However in reality this is only a guideline and is not mandatory in England. This is despite the fact that in October 2014 NICE published a new Quality Standard and called for an end to the postcode lottery of IVF treatment in England. Recent statistics produced by Fertility Fairness has shown that over 80% of CCGs fail to provide the recommended cycles.

https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/access-support/nhs-funding/england/

So less than 1 in 5 NHS England trusts is offering IVF at the level offered universally in Scotland.

Why does access to IVF matter so much?

Parenthood is one of the major transitions in adult life for both men and women. The stress of the non-fulfillment of a wish for a child has been associated with emotional sequelae such as anger, depression, anxiety, marital problems, sexual dysfunction, and social isolation. Couples experience stigma, sense of loss, and diminished self-esteem in the setting of their infertility (Nachtigall 1992). In general, in infertile couples women show higher levels of distress than their male partners (Wright 1991; Greil 1988); however, men’s responses to infertility closely approximates the intensity of women’s responses when infertility is attributed to a male factor (Nachtigall 1992). Both men and women experience a sense of loss of identity and have pronounced feelings of defectiveness and incompetence.

https://womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics-2/infertility-and-mental-health/

While BBC Scotland does have reports on IVF and is, of course, very interested in reporting missed NHS targets, they have never reported the IVF target being busted.

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