About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an update on how long eligible patients waited from referral to a 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.

The statistics available in this release continue to be constrained by the availability of fully comprehensive data from the Glasgow IVF Centre. Prior to the May 2023 release, issues were identified with some aspects of data previously submitted by this IVF Centre. Progress has been made to address these issues and as a result, some previously published statistics have changed. In this release PHS can report on the number of patients screened and performance against the waiting time standard, for both the Glasgow IVF Centre and Scotland as whole for the period January 2016 to December 2023. However, there are constraints to being able to report on the full time series for other metrics normally available from the dataset (please see the main report for more details). A full dataset is published for the 3 other IVF Centres.

Main points

During the quarter ending 31 December 2023:

  • The 90% standard was met, with 99.7% of patients attending a screening appointment within 52 weeks of referral. One patient waited more than 52 weeks to be screened.
  • The number of patients waiting across Scotland at 31 December 2023 is unavailable. At 31 May 2023 (the most recent data available), there were 986 patients waiting to be screened. This number has been increasing since September 2022 (803 patients) and is now 27.4% higher compared to 31 December 2019 (774 patients).
  • Examining the trends in the number of patients screened and referrals explains why the number of patients waiting has been increasing. Natural variation in monthly screening levels can be caused by holiday periods and regular facilities maintenance and staff vacancies can have a longer term impact. Taking that variability into account, the monthly average number of patients screened during the last 2 years (120 in 2022 and 116 in 2023) is slightly less than in 2019, prior to the pandemic (122). This combined with a slight increase in monthly referrals caused the observed increase in the waiting list.
Image caption Number of patients referred, screened and waiting to be screened across Scotland, January 2018 to December 2023

Background

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 and transfer of fresh embryos, followed by freezing of suitable embryos and subsequent replacement of these provided the couple still fulfil the access criteria.

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

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the publication page on our website.

Open data from this publication is available from the Scottish Health and Social Care Open Data platform.

The next release of this publication will be 28 May 2024.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact Diane Barrie at 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: 28 February 2024
Was this page helpful?