Eight fertility clinics in Ireland will offer HSE-funded services, including free IVF treatments
Eligible individuals who are recommended for advanced fertility treatment services will have the opportunity to access HSE-funded services across various regions of Ireland starting at the end of September. In collaboration with the HSE, ReproMed Ireland in conjunction with 6 other private fertility clinics in Ireland will be delivering services to individuals who have been advised to seek treatment by one of the six HSE regional fertility centres.
These HSE-approved clinics are situated in Cork, Dublin, Galway, and Kildare, some of which have additional satellite clinics in different parts of the country where certain aspects of care may also be provided.
The clinic locations are as follows:
HSE-approved fertility clinics
· Beacon Care Fertility: Dublin. Satellite clinics in Limerick and Louth
· First IVF: Kildare. Satellite clinics in Cork, Galway and Kerry
· Merrion Fertility Clinic: Dublin
· ReproMed Dublin: Dublin. Satellite clinic in Louth
· ReproMed Galway: Galway
· Sims IVF: Cork & Dublin. Satellite clinics in Carlow, Limerick and Louth
· Thérapie Fertility: Dublin. Satellite clinics in Limerick and Louth
· Waterstone Clinic: Cork. Satellite clinics in Kildare and Waterford
HSE-funded advanced fertility treatment services include
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) – a sample of a man’s sperm is injected into the woman’s uterus (womb) around the time of ovulation.
- In vitro fertilisation (IVF) – IVF is a type of fertility treatment where fertilisation takes place outside the body; a woman’s eggs are fertilised with a man’s sperm in a laboratory before being transferred back to the woman’s womb.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – is similar to IVF but involves the injection of sperm directly into an egg.
The six Regional Fertility Hubs are based in maternity networks in:
- National Maternity Hospital, Dublin
- Rotunda Hospital, Dublin
- Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin
- Galway University Hospital
- Cork University Maternity Hospital
- Nenagh General Hospital as part of Limerick University Maternity Hospital.
The HSE has committed to actively monitoring and assessing the demand for this service, collaborating closely with its six regional fertility hubs and the network of HSE-approved private fertility clinics to meet the needs of patients.
Publicly funded IVF Information ( Latest Update):
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly made a significant announcement regarding fully funded assisted human reproduction (AHR) treatment in Ireland, which is set to begin in September. Patients who meet the eligibility criteria will have access to one complete cycle of either IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment. Initially, these treatments will be provided in HSE-approved private clinics, with the first public National Advanced AHR Centre expected to open next year.
Patients with explained or unexplained infertility will be eligible for treatment
To start the process, individuals will have an initial consultation with their GP, who will then determine if a referral to the local Regional Fertility Hub is appropriate. These hubs offer a comprehensive range of treatments and interventions for both men and women.
Starting in September, patients eligible for IVF, ICSI, or IUI treatments based on clinical indications will receive referrals from the Reproductive Medical Consultant at the Regional Fertility Hub. The treatment will be publicly funded and provided at an HSE-approved private clinic of the patient’s choice.
Female patients, under 41 years old, who have been referred to a regional fertility hub by their GP, meeting the necessary criteria will be eligible for IVF, ICSI or IUI free of charge.
Criteria to access government funded IVF, ICSI and IUI treatment in Ireland
The eligibility criteria outlined below have been released by the Department of Health of Ireland:
- Individuals must be legal residents of the State and should be referred to a Regional Fertility Hub by their GP (self-referrals will not be accepted).
- Eligible couples must not have any living children from their current relationship, and at least one partner must have no living child.
- Publicly funded AHR treatment is available for individuals who have undergone a maximum of one previous IVF cycle, using all embryos created during that cycle.
- Couples or individuals will not be eligible for publicly funded AHR treatment if either partner/individual has undergone voluntary sterilisation.
- An assessment will be conducted to ensure the well-being of any children born as a result of AHR treatment, primarily based on a self-declaration form.
- A maximum of two intending parents will be considered for a child born through AHR treatment, and they must have been in a relationship for at least one year.
- The intending birth mother should be within the age range of 40 years plus 364 days at the time of referral to the Regional Fertility Hub, while the maximum age for male partners seeking treatment is 59 years plus 364 days.
- The Body Mass Index (BMI) of the intending birth mother must fall within the range of 18.5 kg/m2 – 30.0 kg/m2.
The guidance regarding lifestyle for patients accessing publicly-funded IVF, ICSI, and IUI treatment is as follows:
Alcohol: The intending birth mother should consume no more than one or two standard alcoholic drinks once or twice per week. For males, the recommended limit is no more than three to four standard alcoholic drinks per day, ideally, the consumption of alcohol should be no more than 10 standard drinks or less over a 7-day week.
Smoking: Intending parents should be non-smokers for at least three months before undergoing treatment.
Recreational/Illegal Drugs: Intending parents should refrain from using recreational drugs for at least three months prior to treatment.
Is egg and/or sperm donation covered by publicly funded IVF in Ireland?
Treatment utilising donated gametes (sperm and eggs) will not be accessible in September 2023 for heterosexual or same-sex couples or single female patients. However, the Department of health will be making an effort to make this treatment option available as soon as possible.
IVF, ICSI, IUI and egg-freezing treatments using donor eggs and donor sperm will still be available privately, to patients who do not meet the publicly funded IVF criteria outlined above.
Rollout of publicly funded IVF Information
In a landmark move towards supporting reproductive health, the Irish government recently announced its plan to publicly fund In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatments in Ireland. This groundbreaking initiative, disclosed during Budget 2023, means a significant step forward in providing accessible fertility services to those in need.
The announcement: Budget 2023 and the allocation of €10 million
Recognising the challenges faced by couples seeking IVF treatments in Ireland, the government will allocate a budget of €10 million to support publicly funded IVF treatments aiming to address the financial barriers faced by couples struggling with infertility.
The importance of government funded IVF in Ireland and how does it change things
Infertility treatments, including IVF, can be financially burdensome, making them inaccessible for many people struggling to conceive naturally. The introduction of publicly funded IVF in Ireland aims to address this issue directly. By allocating funds for IVF treatments, the government aims to alleviate the financial strain faced by couples, ensuring that individuals have an equal opportunity to access these medical treatments.
Enhancing Fertility Services’ availability
“The vast majority of EU countries fund a number of IVF sessions – but Ireland currently funds none, said MEP Frances Fitzgerald in 2021”
25m Europeans are affected by infertility and the HSE has recently confirmed that in Ireland, 1 in 6 heterosexual couples are struggling with this medical issue.
Publicly funded IVF will expand the availability of fertility treatments across Ireland. Previously, limited financial resources restricted the number of individuals who could undergo IVF treatments. With the new plan, more couples will have the chance to explore fertility treatments and increase their chances of growing their family, ultimately leading to improved reproductive healthcare nationwide.
The Tender Process: A step towards implementation
To ensure a transparent and efficient implementation of publicly funded IVF, the Irish government initiated a tender process. This process involves identifying and selecting suitable clinics to serve the IVF treatments. Several key factors, such as experience, expertise, success rates, capacity, and technology will be considered during the evaluation process. The government’s commitment to a fair and competitive tender process highlights its dedication to delivering high-quality and accessible fertility treatments to the population of Ireland.
The implementation of the Model of Care is being carried out in two phases.
Phase One, which is currently underway, focuses on establishing Regional Fertility Hubs within maternity networks at the secondary care level. These hubs will cater to a significant number of patients with fertility concerns and offer a range of treatments and interventions, including various diagnostic tests, surgeries, ovulation induction, and follicle tracking. With Phase One set to conclude later this year, fully operational Regional Fertility Hubs will be established at six locations across the country.
Currently, there are five operational Regional Fertility Hubs situated at Cork University Maternity Hospital, the Rotunda Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital, the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, and University Hospital Galway. At present, it is expected that the sixth and last Regional Fertility Hub will be ready to commence operations by the end of the year. This hub will be located at Nenagh General Hospital and will be under the clinical governance of University Maternity Hospital Limerick.
Phase Two of the Model of Care will mark a groundbreaking milestone in the public health system by introducing tertiary fertility services, including publicly provided IVF treatments. The government has secured funding in Budget 2023 to support access to advanced AHR treatments and initiate Phase Two. The first step towards this objective will be the establishment of the National Advanced AHR Centre, which will offer IVF and ICSI exclusively through a publicly funded clinic. Scheduled to open in early 2024, this center will provide nationwide services and maintain equity of access for patients referred from the six Regional Fertility Hubs through a shared care pathway. Additional National Advanced AHR Centres are also planned for future development, pending the availability of further funding.
To expand the scope of services provided by the Regional Fertility Hubs, the 2023 allocation will be utilised to introduce intrauterine insemination (IUI) as a component of AHR treatment. This less complex and intrusive procedure will enhance the range of services available to patients.
While preparations for Phase Two are ongoing, including the establishment of a national eligibility framework, the government has taken interim measures to support access to advanced AHR treatments through private providers starting in September 2023. These temporary arrangements will bridge the gap until the publicly provided services are fully operational.
As of yet, no patient selection criteria has been announced.
ReproMed Ireland: A leading participant in the tender process
Among the potential participants in the tender process, ReproMed Ireland is a prominent player. Known for its expertise in assisted reproduction techniques, ReproMed Ireland is well-positioned to contribute to the successful implementation of publicly funded IVF.
With a commitment to patient-centred care and a track record of delivering excellent results, ReproMed Ireland stands as a reliable partner in making IVF treatments more accessible and contribute to raising the bar in the way fertility care is delivered in Ireland.
When will it become available?
The timeline has been set to rollout from September 2023. At the moment, all the participants of the tender have submitted their documents and are waiting on reviews.
As this plan becomes a reality, countless individuals and couples will have the opportunity to realise their dreams of parenthood and you can rest assured that ReproMed Ireland is doing everything to be a partner on this journey.
Published on 18 of
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