State funding for IVF to begin next year, Donnelly says
Ireland is the only country in the EU that does not offer State funding.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced plans to fund IVF fertility treatment for public patients from next year.
Writing in this week’s Mail on Sunday, he said: "We are progressing legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction that will enable us to introduce publicly funded IVF treatment. This is something I would like to introduce in 2023."
However, he did not specify how much funding will be made available.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Clinical Director of the Merrion Fertility Clinic Professor Mary Wingfield warned that similar promises have been made from ministers in the past, but nothing has happened.
"It's quite a complicated endeavour to fund IVF and to decide who will be eligible, and I'm not sure that any of those decisions have been made," she said.
"I'm certainly not aware of them or how it will be funded in Ireland, whether it will be that people will be funded to attend a private clinic or what the system will be."
IVF is an expensive procedure, with one cycle typically costing around €6,000. This can vary between cases depending on what kind of treatment is needed.
"Studies show that it's as stressful as having cancer," Professor Wingfield said. "So to compound that by adding in the financial stress just really makes it so hard for people."
She added that several fertility hubs have been set up around the country, which is "a move in the right direction and a commitment and an acknowledgement that there is a need for fertility treatment".
As it stands, Ireland is currently the only country in the EU that does not offer any State funding for IVF.
Studies suggest that roughly one in every six couples will struggle to conceive a baby.