Pressure mounts on Vic to reverse IVF halt

Callum GoddeAAP
Prospective parents have had IVF services put on pause in Victoria.
Camera IconProspective parents have had IVF services put on pause in Victoria. Credit: AAP

Prospective parents will have to keep waiting for the resumption of Victoria's IVF services, with Premier Daniel Andrews apologising for delays caused by COVID-19 pressures.

IVF clinics were contacted earlier this month and asked to cancel some appointments as part of a pause on elective surgeries.

But the most time-critical IVF procedures for patients such as couples whose eggs are about to expire and women who took pre-cycle medication before January 6 are still able to go ahead.

Mr Andrews apologised to those impacted and said the government was working to resume day procedures, including IVF treatments, as soon as possible.

"We understand this is distressing," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"We're doing everything we can to get those procedures back up and running, and I hope to be able to provide a positive update very, very soon."

He declined to provide a timeline for resumption but was adamant it could be possible before Victoria's expected peak of COVID-19 hospitalisations in the next two to four weeks.

His comments come as two of Australia's largest fertility providers joined calls for the IVF suspension to be reviewed.

Monash IVF medical director Professor Luk Rombauts said he could not ignore patients' "anguish and heartache".

Dr Fleur Cattrall, the medical director of Melbourne IVF, noted services continued during the state's six previous lockdowns and said patients were "heartbroken and in utter disbelief" when informed about the pause.

"We strongly believe the current ban on IVF procedures is not the right path to take, as so many women and couples rely on IVF in order to have a family," Dr Cattrall and Prof Rombauts said.

"Despite also suspending elective surgery, other states have allowed IVF and other fertility services to continue operating as normal."

More than 110,000 people have signed an online petition to reinstate fertility and IVF treatments, with its creator saying politicians should not be able to decide the timing of a woman's reproduction.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government had "exempted" IVF treatments as elective procedures earlier in the pandemic while acknowledging their status was ultimately a decision for each state and territory.

"There's no choice involved in infertility treatments. It's not an elective procedure, in my view, that should be subject to these things," he said.

"I respect the fact that these are decisions of the Victorian government. I appreciate the extreme pressure their hospital system is under."

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy also pleaded with the state government to provide surety, saying would-be parents could not afford delays to accessing IVF.

"It doesn't take up critical beds. It doesn't take up time and space. It can't wait," he said.

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