I've just discovered (thanks to another MNer) that many PCTs have changed their rules/criteria on IVF funding - have a look here to see what your PCT should be offering. I took the printout to my GP who hadn't been told about any changes himself but found out for me that this data is right (at least for my PCT) and he is going to referring me again
Different PCTs have different rules - mine used to say they wouldn't fund IVF if either of us had children from previous relationships, now it seems to be that they'll fund it if we don't have children together even if one or other (or both?) of us have children from before. it could still be worth looking into though, in case her PCT have changed their rules too.
PCTs do have some discretion over how they implement some kinds of NICE guidance. I can't quite remember the details at the mo (maternity leave brain), but some things are Have To's, and some have less force behind them, and are down to local conditions.
I think IVF is one where individual PCTs have quite a lot of discretion, and the guidelines are just that, guidelines.
My local PCT has age limits and won't fund if either party has a child.
It's always a juggling act between putting money into areas of high local need, and offering the same to everyone, everywhere.
All PCTs will have an appeals process, where you can put forwards arguments as to why you feel you personally are 'exceptional' and should be treated differently.
The guidelines are just that, it is up to the PCT's discretion, but there's growing national pressure on PCTs to end the 'postcode lottery'. However the criteria about previous children, age, BMI, smoker or non-smoker, same sex partners, heterosexual couple or individual, length of relationship, length of time of infertility etc all vary drastically between PCTs and are (I guess) their way of limiting controlling the funding.
It's not at all what you want because the whole infertility thing is so heartbreaking anyway. Of course it is political, and there are many people who would argue that IVF funding is not what the NHS is for, but there is growing pressure for the PCTs to be offering funding in line with the NICE guidelines. I don't mind if PCTs will only fund one go or six but what I don't like is that if we could afford to move house to a different area we could get a better 'deal'.
have just read this thread, we are finally lucky ours have changed after speaking with the dr for 4 years, finally got a referral to st mary's in manchester as husband had vasectomy with ex wife and has 3 son. After mix up with my dr's told them about our pct rules and we do qualify as stable relationship and no children between us.
Now just a waiting game knowing my luck will take ages to get an appointment.