Female same-sex couples and step-parents will now be able to access NHS fertility treatment in England, says Government in Women’s Health strategy

Good news: Fertility Network welcomes the Government’s Women’s Health Strategy and the commitment to improving access to NHS-funded fertility treatment, although there remains considerable progress to be made before the ‘IVF postcode lottery’ is removed. We would have liked to have seen a clear strategy for ending the current geographical variations.
However, the proposed changes to remove non-clinical barriers to access will make a huge difference to particular groups of patients. Female same-sex couples who will no longer have to face the financial burden of having to prove their infertility (the NHS treatment pathway for female same-sex couples will start with six cycles of artificial insemination, prior to accessing IVF services if necessary).
Step-parents with fertility issues, who have until now been denied medical help in most areas of England because their partner has a child from a previous relationship, will also benefit. We have long campaigned for these changes and raised the issues in our submission to the Women’s Health Strategy. We hope these changes will be implemented swiftly.
Fertility Network looks forward to seeing how the Government intends to tackle England’s ‘postcode lottery’ by improving transparency on the provision and availability of IVF. As the national charity, we already publish a breakdown of what the different clinical commissioning groups offer on our website, together with an annual audit and we will follow developments with interest.
For most women, the first step in their fertility journey is visiting their GP. Yet far too often women’s worries about their menstrual cycle and fertility are dismissed; we hope this new look at women’s health, including a focus on the education and training of doctors, will prove beneficial for women and their partners in the future.’

Details of the Government’s Women’s Health Strategy are available at First Women’s Health Strategy for England to tackle gender health gap – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)