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Under the current rules, mixed sex and same sex couples can be offered up to three IVF cycles on the NHS in Scotland, as long as at least one of them does not have a child already.
Private fertility treatment is too expensive for many people struggling with fertility issues, meaning that some are completely reliant on what they can receive on the NHS.
The report, A Scotland For The Future, set out a series of other ways the nation could grow its population, including offering financial incentives for migrants to settle with their families.
On IVF, it says that “increasing access to NHS treatment for the purposes of increasing population could be achieved by widening access criteria to NHS fertility treatment”.
Giving examples, it says the criteria could be expanded to “single people, or couples who already have a child, or by increasing the number of cycles of IVF to increase success rates”.
It adds: “Further modelling would need to be undertaken to inform the demand and possible outcome of these changes…to understand if that is one of the reasons behind people not having children.”
The report also suggests a series of ways to make Scotland more welcoming to families, such as encouraging employers to offer women “breastfeeding breaks” while they work.
Scotland’s population is currently at a record high, but it is also ageing and all growth over the next 20 years is projected to come from inward migration.
The national birth rate is also falling, with the average number of children per woman falling from 2.5 in 1971 to a record low of 1.37 in 2019. For a population to grow, the rate needs to be at least 2.1.
Ministers are concerned that the stricter immigration system introduced after Brexit could cut overseas migration into Scotland.
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:
For many years people left Scotland to build a future elsewhere.
Like many advanced economies we now face different challenges, such as a falling birth rate, while Brexit threatens to significantly reduce inward migration from the EU.
There is no single magic bullet available to address our demographic challenges.
Instead this report proposes a series of innovative steps to build a sustainable population by attracting people into Scotland, distributing our population more evenly around the country and helping everyone live long, productive lives.