NHS told to give trans patients equal fertility treatment access

WikiTribune is working on a story about the treatment of transgender people by the National Health Service in England. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) ordered NHS England to offer transgender patients equal access to fertility treatment or face legal action. The equalities watchdog said “outdated” services discriminate against the transgender community.

Transitioning can lead to fertility loss, but England’s health service has not been providing fertility treatment to patients about to undergo gender-affirming surgery, according to the EHRC in a pre-action letter sent to NHS England – the first step towards judicial review proceedings.

It warned that it would take legal action if the health service failed to make egg and sperm storage available to anyone having treatment for gender dysphoria, the condition where a person feels distress due to a discord between their gender identity and biological sex.

Questions this article will seek to answer:

  • Are transgender people seeking fertility treatment being discriminated against by the NHS?
  • Why is this happening?
  • How can it be rectified?
  • Is this a global issue?

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Key facts

  • The equalities watchdog has told England’s health service to allow transgender patients equal access to fertility treatments, including gamete extraction and storage – the process of preserving eggs and sperm for future fertilisation.
  • Gamete extraction and storage gives transgender people the option of having their own biological children after gender transition surgery, which can lead to fertility loss.
  • NHS England says who gets fertility treatment is a matter for government ministers to decide.
  • The EHRC says the decision falls to individual Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), groups run by the NHS. Many CCGs choose not to offer fertility services to transgender patients, the EHRC claims.
  • An NHS England spokesperson said the EHRC had “misplaced its fire”. They also said: “Decisions on which services are commissioned by NHS England are taken by ministers based on advice from an independently chaired panel of health experts and patient representatives, using a process set out in primary legislation.”
  • NHS England have 14 days to respond to the EHRC’s letter.
  • Approximately 4,500 people are referred to gender identity clinics in England per year, according to NHS England.

What do you want to investigate about the EHRC’s threat against NHS England?

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