Over-40s who are denied free IVF treatment can now sue the NHS under new age discrimination laws.
The law means people may take legal action if they are refused ‘healthcare’ on the basis of age.
The Government says this is the case with IVF, which the NHS currently restricts to women between ages 23 and 39.
Norman Lamb, a junior health minister, said older women can take their NHS trust to court and challenge the decision if IVF is denied because of age.
He said: “if people in any condition feel that a judgement can’t be justified, and feels arbitrary, then they should challenge it because we should always be making our judgement in the health service on clinical need.”
Some health trusts set their own age limits, and will not pay for IVF if the woman is over 35 years of age.
Health watchdog NICE is considering allowing IVF to be given up to the age of 42 and a decision is expected next year.
The odds of conceiving through IVF decrease with age – only 17% of women aged 40-42 having the treatment become pregnant.
Each course of IVF costs the NHS around £3000.
This new law is the final part of the Equality Act 2010, and ensures older people cannot be discriminated against in the provision of goods, facilities and services.