The UK Government has unveiled its Women’s Health Strategy, which will finally start tackling the ‘postcode lottery’ of IVF availability
The new rules are designed to improve ‘transparency on availability’ in different parts of the country. Now, lesbian couples will no longer need to pay for artificial insemination to prove their fertility status before going through funded IVF. They will get six free IUI cycles, which are less invasive, before they go on to IVF.
Similarly, couples previously denied NHS-funded IVF because one person already had a child will now be given the green light to obtain the procedure for free.
While the national guidelines say that NHS-funded IVF should be given to all women aged 42 or younger who have failed to have a baby after two years of trying, it is the local CCGs that set the rules. Some of these trusts offer the recommended three cycles, while others place extreme limits on the treatment.
New Educational Requirements Set Out
The new Department of Health strategy will mandate that both boys and girls are taught about women’s health from an early age. They’ll all learn about menopause, and they will no longer be segregated during Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) lessons.
The goal is to stop women’s health issues, including contraception, female infertility, menstrual health, and menopause, from being seen as taboo.
Doctors Should Listen to Women’s Concerns
The Government is also trying to improve the way women are treated by the medical establishment. According to the strategy, the goal is that “women and girls feel listened to and have their concerns taken seriously at every stage of their journey.”
“As a result, more doctors will have a better baseline understanding of women’s health.”
The strategy also states that non-binary people and trans men should also receive the same level of care as cis women, including screening invites for cervical and breast cancer screening.
In addition to opening ‘one-stop’ women’s health clinics in different parts of the country, the strategy also pledges to reduce waiting times for women’s health concerns, especially for endometriosis diagnoses.
A Pledge to Listen to Women
Health Secretary Steve Barclay and health minister Maria Caulfield acknowledged that most women who participated in the consultation did not feel like they were listened to properlyand had their concerns minimised.
In the introduction, they wrote, “this is the Government’s first Women’s Health Strategy for England and shows how we will right these wrongs. It sets out how we will improve the way in which the health and care system listens to women’s voices, and boost health outcomes for women and girls.”
What do you think about these changes to the rules? Do you think the new strategy will improve access to healthcare, including IVF? We would love to know your thoughts on social @ivfbabble or by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org