Refused NHS IVF – What Next?

IVF treatment is truly a wonder of medical advancement. Unfortunately, NHS fertility treatment, including IVF, is not available to everyone. Right now, the criteria are tight and availability for funded IVF is limited. It is because of these limitations that many find themselves being refused NHS IVF. When that happens, it can be a real blow. For some people, it can feel like the end of the road, in terms of their fertility treatment options. Here, we take a look at what you can do next, if you’re refused IVF treatment on the NHS.

What do you do when you’ve been refused IVF?

Firstly, take a breath. Being refused NHS IVF can be a blow. It is important to take a minute and let yourself adjust to that decision before you decide on your next steps. Here at Access Fertility, we have worked with countless patients who have come to us after being refused NHS IVF. We have seen the disappointment, hurt and upset that follows that particular door being closed.

We spoke to Emma, a patient at Access Fertility about her experience:

“They explained that I wasn’t eligible for that treatment on the NHS, because my husband already had a daughter from another relationship. We were so angry at the situation, we fought tooth and nail to try and get further help. This involved visiting multiple doctors, writing to our MP, and approaching our CCG. Each time, the door was slammed in our face. Even our families got involved trying to get some support, but ultimately, we were refused NHS IVF treatment.”


After taking a moment to absorb and reflect on what has happened, there may be other options you want to explore.

Reasons you might have been refused IVF via the NHS

There are many reasons that a woman might be refused IVF via the NHS. Often it comes down to the very tight rules within your area. NICE set the guidelines to decide who should be eligible for funded treatment. Then, the individual NHS integrated care boards (ICBs) have the final say in your local area. Many patients have reported that they find the ICBs rulings to be stricter than the NICE ones.

ICB criteria may include criteria which look at:

  • If you smoke or not
  • Whether you have a healthy BMI
  • If you have children already, including from past relationships. This may include your partner if you are seeking IVF as a couple
  • Your age. The NHS include age restrictions in their criteria. Currently, women ages 40 – 42 years old may be eligible for one round of IVF and those under 40 years three cycles. Some ICBs have set the upper age limit for women wanting to access funded IVF as 35 years old.

Being refused NHS IVF can represent a major setback for some. Remember that this refusal is not your fault. Unfortunately, availability is very limited. If you have been refused, know that strict rules are the reason and that it is nothing you have or haven’t done.

Private vs NHS IVF

Having been refused NHS IVF, many women research private vs NHS IVF to find out what the differences are. The biggest difference for many is cost. While NHS IVF is funded, private IVF is self-funded. Availability on the NHS is very limited. Private clinics aren’t restricted in the same way. This makes private IVF easier to access if it is an appropriate option for your needs.

Emma explained her decision to go private:

In the end, we knew our only option was to go private. It was so expensive, but I knew I could never forgive myself if I didn’t try. It was a case of “if we don’t try, then we’ll always wonder ‘what if’”.


Being accepted for NHS IVF might have seemed like the ideal solution. However, it is worth remembering that there are often long waiting lists to access NHS treatment. This isn’t an issue with a private clinic. The rules around private IVF are different as private specialists do not need to follow ICB restrictions.

If IVF is your chosen route you might decide to consider private IVF treatment. Here at Access Fertility, we work hard to support those who have been refused NHS IVF treatment. Our packages help patients to lower and fix the cost of their IVF.

Ultimately, the decision to try to conceive using IVF is not an easy one. When you are refused a place for NHS treatment, it can knock you. ICB criteria and funding issues seem far removed from the dreams you have for starting or adding to your family.

Thankfully, private IVF is more accessible these days. While it still involves a financial investment, costs can now be fixed. With packages such as our IVF Refund Programme or the IVF Unlimited Programme, you can opt for a private package that best suits your needs.

If you’re considering IVF we’d be happy to discuss your options with you. Contact us today and we’ll book in some time to talk through the right next steps for you.

Ready to get started?

Call Access Fertility for a free no obligations chat to discuss your options.