About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides an update on how long eligible patients waited from referral to screening appointment for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment by the NHS in Scotland. The standard is for 90% of eligible patients to be screened at an IVF Centre within 52 weeks of receipt of a referral from a secondary care/acute consultant.

Main points

During the quarter ending 30 September 2021:

  • 370 patients were screened for IVF treatment in comparison to 360 patients screened during the previous quarter. This is a similar level to the 367 patients screened on average during quarters in 2019, just prior to the start of the pandemic.
  • The 90% standard was met, with all patients attending a screening appointment within 52 weeks from referral.
  • 99.7% of patients waited 39 weeks or less to be screened, similar to the previous quarter (99.4%), however, slightly more patients waited for 26 weeks or less during the quarter (47.8%) compared to the previous quarter (46.6%).
Image caption Percentage distribution of waiting times for eligible patients who were screened for IVF treatment across Scotland by quarter, January 2018 to September 2021
  • 314 referrals were received by the four IVF Centres across Scotland, 5.7% more than the 297 referrals received in the previous quarter ending 30 June 2021 and 3.0% more than the average during all quarters of 2019.
  • 757 patients were waiting to attend an IVF screening appointment, an increase of 4.4% from the previous quarter resulting from the number of referrals exceeding the number of patients ending their wait during the quarter. The waiting list remains 21.9% higher than the average waiting list (621 patients) at the quarter ends of 2019.
  • Of those patients waiting to be screened at 30 September 2021 (757), all patients had been waiting 39 weeks or less from referral, with 47.4% (359 patients) waiting 13 weeks or less.


IVF is an effective method of assisted reproductive technology used to treat infertility.  This includes intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for male infertility. Where this publication refers to IVF, it includes IVF and ICSI. One full cycle of IVF includes ovulation induction, egg retrieval, fertilisation, transfer of fresh embryos, followed by freezing of suitable embryos and subsequent replacement of these provided the couple still fulfil the access criteria.

Each of the 14 territorial NHS Boards in Scotland commissions cycles of IVF from one of the four specialist tertiary Centres providing NHS treatment (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow).

As with many other NHS Scotland services the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has affected the ability of the four Scottish IVF Centres to deliver treatment, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic when all treatment was paused briefly. Since then, the IVF Centres have been remobilising their services and have remained open for treatment up to 30 September 2021.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 22 February 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.ivf@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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