Clarifying Relevant Criteria with the NHS & HFEA

Clarification Required from the National Health Service

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provide treatment guidelines to the NHS in England and Wales. These guidelines are also disseminated to Northern Ireland, but have no jurisdiction in Scotland. In 2013 the NICE guidelines for fertility treatment recommended that same sex couples receive funded treatment. Attendance at the Stonewall “Different Families, Same Love” panel revealed that many lesbians approaching their GPs with a view to access treatment have been given varied advice about the criteria they need to meet in order to be eligible for NHS funding.
No one lesbian/couple should have to encounter ill-informed GPs giving incorrect information until they find out eligibility criteria. For this reason it is our aim to ask a number of questions to the CEO of each commissioning group/trust:
• What are your eligibility criteria for the treatment of lesbians?
• Where two lesbians are seeking treatment together in the hope that both can become biological mothers, are the number of cycles provided “per couple” or “per woman”?
• Lesbians have had to rely on private treatment in the past as NHS provision was not available. How does any previous private treatment affect eligibility?
• Do you consider your criteria to be fair?
• How do you inform those at the frontline of care so that lesbian couples are met with accurate information about eligibility on their first enquiry?

We aim to make any criteria we are informed of available for public view.

Clarification Required from the HFEA

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was brought into force in 1990 and the enforcement of this legislation is the task of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority who licence and regulate the activities of centres which undertake treatment with human gametes (eggs and sperm) and embryos. Because the legislation was originally written for the treatment of heterosexual couples and in its original form discouraged treatment of single women and lesbians, not all of the meaning of the legislation is clear in how it applies to lesbians. Most of the legislation has been updated, however limitations on the use of any sperm donor to create ten “families” is unclear. We would like to ask the HFEA:
• When two women are being treated together, is the “ten family limit” for donor sperm per couple (i.e. family) or per woman?    

The HFEA have made it clear that as a same sex couple is raising one family together, both women can use the same donor for the conception of their children, and this counts as one family, not two, towards the ten family limit.                      

Any Further Clarifications?
If there are any further questions you have for the NHS or the HFEA let us know by e-mail to Dr Helen Priddle