Infertility Treatment

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of Mr Mike Watson Mr Mike Watson , Glasgow Central 12:00 am, 9th June 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to standardise the availability of infertility treatments through the NHS in health boards in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

All health boards in Scotland provide infertility services, the extent and level of which are—[Interruption.]

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I should be much obliged if the House would settle down.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

All health boards in Scotland provide infertility services, the extent and level of which are for boards to decide in the light of local needs and circumstances.

Photo of Mr Mike Watson Mr Mike Watson , Glasgow Central

The Minister clearly is not aware that level 3 infertility treatment is available free of charge in Glasgow but costs £400 a time in Dundee and more than £1,000 a time in Edinburgh and Aberdeen—the only places in Scotland where such treatment is available on the national health service. A few minutes ago, the hon. Gentleman had the gall to say that Labour Members were guilty of spreading disinformation. That comes rich from a man whose Government have reneged on a pre-election commitment given by the Scottish Minister then responsible for health that such services would be provided centrally. If the Under-Secretary is not prepared to honour that pledge he will not only be accused of disinformation but will be guilty of colluding in what will be seen as a cheap and cruel vote-catching gimmick on thousands of childless couples in Scotland. Will he now give that commitment?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

Of course I am fully aware of the detailed provision of infertility services in Scotland—at level I, which represent treatment offered by a GP or general gynaecologist, at level 2, which represent secondary or specialist care available at a district general hospital and are widely available on the NHS in Scotland and, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out, at level 3, with free in vitro fertilisation service at the Royal infirmary, Glasgow. Health boards must decide whether to provide or purchase those services from the resources allocated to them. That situation is not unique to Scotland; it applies throughout the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

Does my hon. Friend agree that in vitro fertilisation is a very complex and costly procedure and that the success rate of the four centres to which he referred is far from consistent? Will he join in welcoming Grampian health board's move to reinvestigate the funding of IVF treatment in its area so that my constituents can be treated at a more favourable cost within the Grampian health board area?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is right to give that example of a health board deciding to investigate what is sensible in the light of local needs and circumstances in its area.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

Is not there a need for not only the regulation of treatments throughout Scotland but for the supervision of all treatments throughout health boards? The recent scandal of the Inverclyde royal hospital showed that stark fact. When will the committee of inquiry publish or present to the Minister its report on matters at the Inverclyde royal hospital, and is the Minister satisfied with the remedial action that was taken by the hospital to diminish and give comfort to the women who were caught up in that needless and dreadful scandal?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

The short answer to the hon. Gentleman's second question is yes, and I hope that he will be reassured by the meetings that he has been offered by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State to discuss matters in detail. The answer to his first question is that there will be a full investigation under the inquiry conducted by Dr. McGoogan. The report will be made to the Secretary of State and the Minister of State and to the health boards. It will be made public. The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, and the report will be completed as soon as is possible and practicable.