Scotland is leading the way on access to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The SNP manifesto included a commitment to increase the availability of fertility treatment and the number of rounds of IVF available on the NHS in Scotland is increasing from two to three for women under 40, and one for women aged between 40 and 42.
As of 01 April this has now been delivered.
New eligibility criteria also makes IVF treatment available to families where one partner has children from a previous relationship. Over the last four years, the SNP Government has invested around £18 million to reduce IVF waiting times and improve the outcomes for patients undergoing this treatment. Kenneth Gibson said: “I am delighted that the SNP has delivered on our promise to significantly increase Scotland's provision for couples struggling to conceive but who may not be able to pay for IVF privately. “There is a great demand for fertility treatment in Scotland and we are now leading the way in the UK on IVF access.
“A number of recommendations were presented to the SNP Government from the national infertility group and fertility organisations have welcomed this progress. Around one in seven couples struggle to conceive, which can be devastating for them. We will now be able to help many such couples.”
Susan Seenan, Chief Executive of the charity Fertility Network, said the announcement was "tremendous news" adding:
"The reason for offering three cycles of treatment is because that's the most cost and clinically-effective number of treatments to offer patients.
"The SNP Government has been very supportive over the last few years in working with us on this. And it's tremendous news for patients that they've decided to opt to introduce the third cycle from 01 April and give Scottish patients the best access across the UK."