Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said she is “absolutely delighted” that the Department of Health has confirmed that same-sex couples will be able to access fertility treatment at the Regional Fertility Clinic.
The MLA said the department had confirmed that couples would be able to able to receive the fertility treatment, including IVF, through the NHS clinic at the Belfast facility.
“I am absolutely delighted by this news and the further step towards equality it means for same-sex couples,” said Ms Armstrong.
“My thoughts are with all those who are going through fertility treatment and now all those who will soon be joining them. I will seek clarification from the Department on further details, including the criteria for proving infertility, but my thanks go to them for making this change.
“Congratulations go to everyone who made this possible – the campaign for fair access to fertility treatment has been a long one. I speak from experience when I say IVF and other treatments are no easy thing to go through, but now the wonderful staff at the Regional Fertility Clinic will be able to help all couples in Northern Ireland who want to go through that journey.”
A Department spokeswoman confirmed it was now offering the service and that it has a well-established policy of endorsing UK-wide guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which identify evidence-based best clinical practice.
“This supports continuous development of services and informs investment decisions,” she said.
“The Department can confirm that in line with the endorsement of NICE Clinical Guideline 156 and as part of the HSC’s ongoing implementation programme for this guideline, same sex couples are now eligible for HSC funded IVF and related treatment.
“The HSCB is finalising the updated eligibility criteria for all people seeking fertility treatment in the Regional Fertility Centre taking account of the NICE guidance. When these amended eligibility criteria are finalised they will be made available.”