NHS fertility treatment must be extended to lesbians and single women as heterosexual couples, according to the recommendation by medical chiefs.
This call was made by the British Fertility Society in a series of recommendations to tackle "a wide disparity" on the social criteria used for acceptance on to an NHS programme of treatment.
AdvertisementTheir recommendations sent to the Primary Care Trusts and Local Health Boards also include telling obese women to lose weight before being considered for any treatment. Besides this couples with children from a previous relationship should not be excluded.
Dr Mark Hamilton, chairman of the BFS, said: "Continued inequality of access to treatment is unacceptable in a state-funded health service and the source of considerable distress to a great number of people with fertility problems."
The latest move by the BFS will probably cause a reopening of the debate on whether the welfare of the child is best served by both a mother and a father.
Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harries, a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee, said: "This is a welcome and progressive set of recommendations since there is no good reason to discriminate unfairly against one group of patients or another."
This advice follows a survey of clinics, published in the journal Human Fertility, and examined how guidance from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence was being implemented.
The survey revealed a wide disparity of access to treatment, with little planning on how to implement the guidance.