THE Department of Health plans to fund IVF treatments from next year, Stephen Donnelly has revealed.
Ireland is currently the only country in the EU that does not offer publicly funded assisted reproduction.
While the Minister of Health said the Department planned to fund IVF treatments from 2023, a fertility expert said there had been no contact from the Department or the HSE so far.
Clinical Director of the Merrion Fertility Clinic, Professor Mary Wingfield, said she was delighted to see the issue receiving media coverage, she has heard similar promises from other Ministers regarding the funding.
Talk to RTE Morning Irelandshe said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have this covered and to become a topic because we really need it.
“Until we actually see the details, and I mean we certainly haven’t had any contact from the Department of Health or the HSE with any of the fertility clinics or maternity hospitals about funding IVF.
“It’s quite a complicated business to fund IVF and decide who will be eligible.”
She added: “I’m not sure any of those decisions have been made, and I’m certainly not aware of that or how it will be funded in Ireland, if it will be that people will be funded to attend a private clinic or what the system will be.”
But the fertility expert noted there has been a “move” and the HSE has set up fertility centers across the country.
Professor Wingfield said: “They’re just getting started, but at least it’s a step in the right direction, a commitment and recognition of the need for fertility treatment.”
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Meanwhile, she explained that the average cost of IVF varies, but a cycle can cost around €6,000.
She added: “Depending on the age of the woman, there’s at best a 50 per cent chance it will work.
“If the woman is older, you’re talking about a 20 or 25 percent chance.
“You can see how quickly people will end up spending over £25,000 on treatment.”
And she explained that IVF can be extremely stressful, and the added financial stress makes it even harder.
Professor Wingfield also urged people not to wait for funding to arrive, as she believes it is unlikely to be available next year.
She said: “I don’t see that happening in January 2023, so most people who have fertility issues have already been trying to get pregnant for two or three years, and having to wait another two or three years is not all. just not an option.”
It comes as Lidl Ireland revealed it would offer employees paid leave to support fertility.
The new policy extends to all of the retailer’s 6,000 employees in its stores, regional distribution centers and offices across Ireland.
Speaking of the new policy update, Lidl Chief Operating Officer Kate Bohan said: “Lidl’s continued recognition of the evolving needs of our colleagues demonstrates the company’s commitment to being an employer who represents more and who is not afraid to break. stigmata on subjects that, historically, were shrouded in silence.
“My partner is currently pregnant with our second baby through IVF, and I’m extremely proud to see Lidl fiercely supporting women going through this process in a sensitive and caring way.”
She added: “The IVF experience can be distressing, both emotionally and physically, and is not a commonly discussed topic.
“I was fortunate to have a very supportive line manager and I am grateful that my openness helped shape this policy for colleagues who may go through this process in the future.
“By recognizing the need for change in this area, Lidl is not only acknowledging the support needed during holidays, but also contributing to the conversation around IVF, which is beneficial for us as a workplace, but also for the society as a whole.”