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Increase in funded IVF provision announced for Northern Ireland

Health Minster Robin Swann with Dr Ishola Agbaje, Consultant Gynaecologist.

Health Minster Robin Swann with Dr Ishola Agbaje, Consultant Gynaecologist.


Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that publicly funded IVF treatment will increase to one full cycle for eligible women.


Speaking during a visit to the Regional Fertility Centre, the Health Minister said: 


“I recognise how difficult it is for people who long to have a child but who are unable to do so without intervention and this initial increase to one full cycle for eligible women should represent a positive step forward. There is also a retrospective eligibility date to allow more women to avail of further treatment under this new change.”



Currently, those women eligible for publicly funded IVF treatment are entitled to receive one fresh and one frozen embryo transfer, even if they achieve a live birth with the first transfer. Under this change, any eligible woman who does not achieve a live birth with either her fresh or first frozen embryo transfers, and still has frozen embryos, will be entitled to further treatment until either she has a live birth or she has transferred all her frozen embryos.


A woman will be eligible if she meets the published access criteria for IVF and has been placed on the waiting list for publicly funded IVF/ICSI treatment on or after 1 October 2022.



Health Minister  Robin Swann with staff of Regional Fertility Centre.

Health Minister  Robin Swann with staff of Regional Fertility Centre.


Minister Swann continued:


“I am very conscious that there is a lot of anticipation around the full implementation of the New Decade New Approach (NDNA) commitment to provide up to three funded cycles of IVF treatment. However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed before second and third IVF cycles can be phased in, including increasing the physical footprint of the Regional Fertility Centre to enable capacity to be increased, as well as ensuring that we have the appropriate number of specialist staff in place to deliver this expanded service as planned.


“Whilst this initial increase in provision has been possible from within the Regional Fertility Centre’s existing resources, it is clear that further expansion will require recurrent funding assurances which, unfortunately, it has not been possible to provide to date in light of the well documented financial pressures facing the entire health service at this time.



“While work continues on planning for full implementation of the NDNA commitment, I want to recognise the team at the Regional Fertility Centre, who have worked incredibly hard to improve treatment waiting times following the COVID-19 pandemic, and to create the capacity to deliver initial increase to one full cycle within the current very limited budget.”


The entitlement will not change for women who achieve a live birth on either, or both, of their fresh and first frozen embryo transfers. 


Additional recurrent funding was allocated to the Regional Fertility Centre in 2020/21 to fund the extended eligibility criteria introduced in June 2019 and in anticipation of the increase in provision. A proportion of this funding was utilised to stabilise the waiting lists following the COVID pandemic and is now able to be used to fund the increase to one full cycle for eligible women.



Today’s announcement follows confirmation from the Health Minister earlier this week that his Department is developing a Women’s Health Action Plan which will include fertility and pregnancy.


A list of FAQs to help women determine if they are eligible for further treatment is available on the Regional Fertility Centre’s website.


Alternatively, women can contact the Centre via email at rfctreatmentcriteria@belfasttrust.hscni.net or on the Centre’s phone line at 02896151292, which will be operational at the following times:


  • Tuesday 17:00 – 19:00;

  • Thursday 17:00 – 19:00; and

  • Saturday 10:00 – 14:00



Any woman who was placed onto the waiting list for publicly funded IVF/ICSI treatment before 1 October 2022 will not be eligible for additional publicly-funded frozen embryo transfers. The Regional Fertility Clinic will manage the waiting list as it currently does and will contact eligible women in due course.


Criteria for publicly funded IVF treatment can be accessed here: Publicly funded treatment | Belfast Health & Social Care Trust website (hscni.net)

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