Equality watchdog ditches legal case against the NHS for failing to provide fertility treatments to transgender patients

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission has ditched a legal battle against NHS 
  • NHS will now reissue guidance to Clinical Commissioning Groups on their duties 
  • Legal battle began last year when the EHRC penned a pre-action letter to CCG’s
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The equality watchdog has ditched a legal battle against the NHS for refusing to offer transgender patients access to fertility services before they start transitioning treatment.

The decision made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to abandon the legal case comes after discussions with the public health body.   

Following the announcement, the NHS will reissue guidance to Clinical Commissioning Groups on their legal duties regarding fertility treatment.


The Equality and Human Rights Commission has ditched a legal battle against NHS England for refusing to offer transgender patients access to fertility services before they transition


The decision to abandon the legal case comes after discussions with the public health body

The NHS is also seeking to recover the legal fees incurred during the case. 

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘We are pleased to see that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has abandoned its claim against the NHS, which was without merit.’ 

The legal battle began last year when the EHRC penned a pre-action letter to 13 Clinical Commissioning Groups and sparked a judicial review over the NHS’s ‘outdated’ policy.

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Arguing that its existing policy discriminated against the transgender community, the EHRC said those transitioning between genders should be offered the opportunity to store their eggs or sperm. 

Speaking last August Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the EHRC, had said: ‘Our laws and our values protect those who seek treatment for gender dysphoria. 


The NHS will now reissue guidance to Clinical Commissioning Groups on their legal duties when it comes to fertility treatment


Last year the EHRC penned a pre-action letter to 13 Clinical Commissioning Groups and asked for judicial review over the NHS’s policy

‘This means that, where appropriate, treatment should be made available in order to ensure that access to health services is free of discrimination. A choice between treatment for gender dysphoria and the chance to start a family is not a real choice.

‘We have asked NHS England to reflect on the true breadth of their statutory mandate and the impact on the transgender community of these outdated policies.’  

Gender dysphoria is a medical condition where there is a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity.

The condition can lead to feelings of discomfort or distress and treatment is sometimes appropriate.

An EHRC spokesperson said: ‘We have settled this case with NHS England as they have agreed to send updated guidance to Clinical Commissioning Groups on providing fertility preservation services that do not discriminate against different groups of people, including transgender patients. 

‘This guidance will be an improvement on the existing advice issued to CCGs.’ 

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