Parity in access to fertility treatment is long overdue. It is absolutely essential that we take action now to ensure that everyone has full access to fertility treatment.
The availability of fertility services varies widely across the country, with provision an effective “postcode lottery”.
While national guidelines exist, final decisions on funding for fertility treatment rest with local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). As a result, the CCG criteria for funding and eligibility may be stricter than national guidelines.
A report published by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) in August 2020 found that female same-sex couples are disproportionately impacted by policies which require them to self-finance costly and less effective artificial insemination, in some cases for at least two years, before becoming eligible for NHS funded treatment.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the BPAS have described the financial barriers as “unacceptable”. I agree.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) initiated a review into IVF equality in July 2019. The Government recently confirmed, however, that the review has been delayed due to “prioritisation issues during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Ministers said they expect the review to be commissioned and report this year.
Separately, the DHSC also confirmed that it is in talks with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regarding a review into outdated fertility guidelines.
Sexual orientation should never a barrier to accessing fertility treatment on the NHS.
Therefore I have written to the Secretary of State on your behalf to ensure the Government restarts the review into IVF equality immediately. Please see both a copy of this letter below: