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High Court rules CCG should revisit fertility policy

High Court tells Clinical Commissioning Group to revisit policy on funding fertility treatment

15 April 2014

A Clinical Commissioning Group has been told by the High Court that its current policy for refusing fertility treatment to a 25 year old woman with a debilitating disease fails to give a proper reason for departure from NICE Guidance and pays only ‘lip service’ to equality duties and the duties to reduce inequalities in access to healthcare.

Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group refused funding for Elizabeth Rose from Margate in Kent so that her eggs could be frozen prior to chemotherapy treatment.

The 25-year-old artist from Kent suffers from Crohn’s disease and requires a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy to bring the disease into remission, a course of treatment, which is highly likely to render her infertile.

Ms Rose took legal action in the High Court against the CCG claiming that the decision failed to take into account updated guidance from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence without proper justification, and that the CCG had failed to have proper regard to its equality duties.

Merry Varney from Leigh Day's human rights team, who is representing Ms Rose, explained:

“Whilst the Court decided that the past decision by the CCG to deny my client this treatment was not unlawful, most importantly the Court went on to find that the CCG’s current policy, which also denies funding for this type of fertility preservation treatment, is unlawful.

"The Court found that the CCG had failed to provide sufficiently good reasons for not implementing the 2013 NICE guidance, which provides this treatment should be offered. Further, the Court emphasized the obligation on the CCG to do more than pay “lip service” to their statutory equality duty. The CCG must now without delay reconsider their policy in light of these findings for the sake of our client and others.”

"We welcome this important part of the Judgment and are grateful to the Legal Aid Agency for their support of our client.”

Following the judgment Lizzy Rose said:

“I am pleased, not just for me but for many other single women in my position, that Thanet Commissioning Group now has to revisit its policy.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the incredibly supportive doctors who have helped me a great deal through this fight and my illness."

Despite extensive surgery, due to the progression of the disease, Ms Rose graduated from a BA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2010.

She worked at an art gallery in Margate as well as being an artist herself in film, video and photography. However, since December 2012, she has been too unwell, due to her illness, to work.

She was due to begin her treatment, which involves firstly harvesting her bone marrow before the chemotherapy begins, last week. Her treating clinicians at King’s College Hospital are supportive of her attempt to secure funding for her eggs to be frozen and to a small delay for this treatment, but have stated her window of opportunity is very narrow.

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