Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Provincial Council member Sumith Lal Mendis was sworn in as the Health Minister of the Western Provincial Council (WPC) today.
Stored gametes of patients who undergo transitioning treatment can later be used for fertility treatments such as IVFCredit:SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI/Science Photo Library RF The letter is the first step of judicial review proceedings.The core of the dispute is over which body has the power to make fertility treatment an ‘essential service’ for transgender patients, which would see it offered automatically. Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive at the EHRC, said: “Our laws and our values protect those who seek treatment for gender dysphoria. 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England to reflect on the true breadth of their statutory mandate and the impact on the transgender community of these outdated policies.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The EHRC placed the blame at the feet of individual clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHS bodies that plan and commission services in their local area.But NHS England responded on Saturday that the EHRC had “misplaced their fire”, and claimed that government ministers were instead responsible for commissioning NHS services.“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,” a spokesman said.A spokeswoman from the EHRC yesterday told The Daily Telegraph: “‘We are challenging their interpretation of their powers and don’t accept that they cannot include gamete storage in the list of commissioned services.” The NHS is accused of using an “interpretation” of their legal powers which allows them to deflect criticism of policy onto the government.Credit:Lynne Cameron/PA NHS England has 14 days to respond to the letter.The Department of Health declined to comment. The NHS must offer fertility treatments to transgender patients awaiting transitioning treatment or risk breaking anti-discrimination legislation, the UK’s human rights watchdog has said. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) accused the NHS of using a “interpretation” of its own legal powers that allowed it to deflect criticism over lack of fertility provision onto the government.Transitioning treatment is given to patients with gender dysphoria – the feeling of discomfort or distress caused by a mismatch between biological sex and gender identity – and can result in fertility loss.The EHRC said trans patients should be offered the opportunity to store their eggs or sperm, a process known as gamete extraction, otherwise thousands could be forced to choose between the essential medical treatment and not having their own biological children.Fertility treatment is already available to some patients who undergo fertility-threatening procedures such as chemotherapy, to allow them to conceive afterwards.The EHRC issued a legal letter to NHS England on Friday, claiming that the withholding of fertility treatments from transgender patients constituted discrimination. It also warned that it would take legal action if policies were not changed.