Public funding to be made available for fertility treatments

There are also plans to introduce legislation in this area

Fertility treatments, public funding, Ireland, Department of Health, Leo Varadkar, legislation, IVF,

In this file photo, Embryologist Rick Slifkin demonstrates fertiliaation techniques on a non-viable embryo at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York | Image: Richard Drew / AP/Press Association Images

Public funding is set to be made available for fertility treatment, along with new laws governing the area.

At the moment fertility treatment is not available in the public health service, though there are some tax supports.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has announced that he intends to fund it - and that it will accompany legislation currently being drawn up.

The Department of Health says that infertility can be a source of emotional distress, physical discomfort and financial hardship for people.

"I believe it is important that we should consider how best to provide public funding for fertility treatment in tandem with closing the current legislative gap in this area of healthcare", Mr Varadkar said

"Fertility treatments should be funded in such a way that not only maximises efficiency but which ensures equity of access as well".

"Nevertheless, the provision of public funding for assisted human reproduction must be accompanied by a robust system of legal governance which will promote and protect the health and well-being of patients and most especially the children who will be born as a result of the treatment", he added.

In February 2015, the government gave approval to draft a general scheme of legislative provisions, dealing with a broad range of aspects relating to assisted human reproduction.

Drafting is underway and the scheme will be published in the first half of 2016.

The Department of Health says it is commissioning an evidence review of international public funding models.

"The review will inform policy regarding the optimal mechanism for any future public funding of assisted human reproduction in the State", it adds.

It is thought around one in six couples have trouble conceiving.

Dr David Walsh is the medical director of SIMS Clinic in Dublin. He told Newstalk Breakfast this is a good UK model to replicate.