The decision of an NHS board in Scotland to deny IVF to smokers has been labelled as “scandalous” by a infertility charity.
NHS Fife has said that it will not give the fertility treatment to couples who smoke or women who are overweight. Stopping smoking is not a medical requirement necessary for IVF to work, but it is thought to greatly reduce the chances of success. The same applies to women with a larger body mass index.
The board has also decided to limit the number of IVF cycles available to patients, reducing them from three to two.
The charity Infertilty Network told the BBC that it is “bad news for patients” that the board decided to make the decision before new recommendations are published at the end of the year.
"The decision to cut patient provision before the infertility review is finished is completely incomprehensible,” Gwenda Burns, Infertility Network's Scottish branch coordinator, said.
"It is scandalous that health boards in Scotland continue to reduce provision and make changes to criteria knowing that new recommendations will soon be in place.
NHS Fife is the third board to ration treatment after Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.
If IVF doesn’t work in the first two cycles, couples face another three year wait to secure free treatment.
Dr Brian Montgomery, NHS Fife medical director, said: "NHS Fife has committed an extra £100,000 to fund infertility treatment over the next financial year.
"This will see 28 more cycles carried out than the previous financial year, helping to reduce waiting times for treatment.
"Treatment criteria have been revised to improve the success of the treatment and the outcomes for mothers and babies.
"Couples currently waiting for a third cycle will still receive this.
The changes will take place on 1 October.