Laura Hineson and Rachel Morgan were told by their local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group they would have to spend £6,000 on six rounds of intrauterine insemination due to unexplained infertility.
However, under Barnsley CCG’s policy, a heterosexual couple with similarly unexplained infertility would not need to undergo the same procedure before being granted access to IVF treatment.
The couple enlisted law firm Leigh Day to look into claims of unlawful direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 on the grounds of their sexuality.
The couple’s lawyers had threatened to seek a judicial review if the CCG did not agree to change its policy.
In response, Barnsley CCG conducted a review of the couple’s case – and conceded that it had relied too heavily upon the policy rather than looking at the specific circumstances of Rachel and Laura’s case.
Rosa Curling, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said: “It was clear to us that Laura and Rachel had faced direct discrimination due to their sexuality.
We are pleased that the CCG finally recognised this and agreed to review their policy so that other same-sex couples will not face an unfair disadvantage over heterosexual couples in the same situation.”
The couple had attempted to conceive using artificial insemination at home between November 2014 and January 2016. When this proved unsuccessful they were referred to Sheffield Fertility Centre in May 2016.
They underwent three self-funded cycles of IUI treatments at the fertility centre.
This was unsuccessful so they made an Individual Funding Request (IFR), via their consultant, to the CCG to fund the IVF treatment.
This was rejected by the CCG which stated that the couple were required to undergo a further three cycles of self-funded insemination before being eligible for funding for IVF treatment.
Laura and Rachel said:
For us, this is about fighting for LGBT equality. We should have equal access to IVF treatment and a family, irrespective of the gender of the person we fall in love with.”