The Government announced on Friday that the NHS in Scotland will offer three cycles of IVF for couples across the board.
Aileen Campbell, SNP MSP for Clydesdale, tried to steer conversation away from how Holyrood will pay for the initiative, which could cost millions of pounds.
Asked by presenter Nick Robinson on Radio 4’s Today programme whether it was the “right priority” at a time when Glasgow maternity hospital couldn’t admit pregnant women due to overcrowding, she tried to bat off the question.
“I think you’re conflating a number of different things there and we’ve got a fairly strong record across Scotland on our NHS,” she said.
Nick Robinson questioned the cost of increasing IVF treatment
It seems to me not unusual I should ask you questions about health in Scotland
She added Scotland’s A&Es were outperforming many across the UK with “good investment levels” and record levels of staff.
But Robinson asked why it had been proposed when the Government had missed its own A&E targets in Scotland.
“I’m really asking about priorities,” he said. “Why spend money on that when your own A&E targets you are missing and have done for a long time.
“Indeed, that’s really what I want to ask you, which is how you’re able to do it.”
An uncomfortable Ms Campbell responded it was a positive move and money had been set aside to do it.
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She said: “I understood I was here to talk about the very positive announcement of allowing couples who are desiring to have a family to get access to three cycles and that’s been welcomed across the different organisations, fertility organisations and actually they’re looking to England to see ‘well why is that not happening here’.
Robinson was not finished and queried the minister’s reaction to his questions.
He said: “You are the Scottish Health Minister, it seems to me not unusual I should ask you questions about health in Scotland.
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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in pictures.
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Nicola Sturgeon visits Glaxo Smith Kline.
It was announced a ban on couples who already have children having IVF would be lifted last year in a major overhaul of infertility care.
The Scottish Government revealed in June it would end the rule that denies women with children the treatment.
The number of IVF cycles freely available on the NHS is being increased from two to three to help more people start a family.
It means Scotland will have the most generous IVF system of any country in the UK.