WA's only publicly funded fertility clinic at King Edward Memorial Hospital has stopped referring patients for in-vitro fertilisation, amid claims of cost cutting.
The hospital says it has not referred any patients for IVF since July because it is tendering for a new contract with a private clinic, but doctors say it is more about saving money.
A spokeswoman said KEMH had an arrangement with a private provider to offer IVF treatment to public patients who met the hospital's referral criteria. "This arrangement now requires renewal to ensure the ongoing quality and sustainability of the service and KEMH is now in the process of determining an appropriate provider to continue providing these services," she said. "During this process, the Reproductive Medicine Clinic at KEMH is temporarily unable to refer women and couples for publicly funded IVF in the community."
The spokeswoman said couples attending the clinic would be sent letters explaining the process and would remain on KEMH's waiting list.
The hospital would tell patients, via their GPs, as soon as new arrangements were in place.
"The Reproductive Medicine Clinic continues to provide advice to and assessment of couples with fertility issues and, where appropriate, clinical intervention," she said.
To access publicly funded IVF services at KEMH, women and couples have to meet conditions about age, weight, number of previous children and the type of fertility treatment needed.
Australian Medical Association WA vice-president Michael Gannon said it was worrying that IVF had not been available in the public system for almost six months. "It has implications for the training of obstetricians but it also means infertile couples are waiting longer," he said.
Dr Gannon said there were wider concerns about plans to close down the KEMH clinic.