Concerns raised about future of NHS fertility services in Wales
Concerns have been raised about the future of NHS fertility services in Wales following uncertainty around the future of a clinic at Neath Port Talbot Hospital.
Two Plaid Cymru MSs have written a joint letter to Wales’ Health Minister, Eluned Morgan following concerns from constituents about the clinic.
During a meeting between staff and Swansea Bay Health Board on Thursday 16 November, staff were told that the service was not currently sustainable.
In the meeting, one of three options was put forward: decommissioning, reduction of provision or outsourcing.
In a joint letter, MS for South Wales West, Sioned Williams and fellow Plaid Cymru MS Luke Fletcher asked for clarification on what assessment had been made on the impact to staff, the provision of services and patients.
Ms Williams and Mr Fletcher also asked whether there was a fourth option for the Welsh Government to support the Wales Fertility Institute to continue its service.
In a question to the First Minister during FMQs this week, Ms Williams referred to the Welsh Government’s commitment in 2012 to reduce the use of the private sector within fertility services in Wales and increase capacity in the NHS.
The First Minister indicated that it was a matter for the health board and the licensing and overseeing authorities.
The Wales Fertility Institute currently operates out of two locations – Neath Port Talbot Hospital and a clinic in Cardiff.
Concerns have been raised about both facilities.
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, said: “This is such an important yet emotive topic as fertility treatment is very much time sensitive, as well as a very difficult rollercoaster of emotion of hope, disappointment, grief and also of joy for patients.
“It’s vitally important to understand the impact on those currently receiving services, those who are on waiting lists, and those who are starting the process to meet the eligibility criteria that will enable them to be added to the waiting lists.
“This is not only a concern for patients, but for the provision and expertise we currently have in the south west of Wales. It’s important that Welsh Government provide clarity on what assessment they’ve made on the potential impact to staff, services and patients alike.
“What we’re asking for is reassurance from Welsh Government that this service will remain in Wales, given their previous assurances that they were committed to keeping this service within the NHS.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We recognise how important IVF services are to those that need them.
“We are aware that the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee and Swansea Bay University Health Board are working closely together to address issues raised by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and to continue to meet licence requirements.
“They are currently looking at a number of options, including contingency arrangements, to ensure that patients can continue to access fertility treatments that meet the quality standards set out by the HFEA.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.