COVID-19 Information

This page provides information about Covid19 and any developments affecting our fertility service. It was last reviewed and updated on 20th December  2021  to include updated information on the recommendations for all adults, including pregnant women to receive a booster vaccine.

Our services, including treatments, diagnostics and out-patient appointments, are currently unaffected so please continue to attend appointments and take medication as planned unless you are contacted by clinic staff advising you otherwise. In the event of a lockdown patients are advised to carry their appointment or schedule letters with them to all visits to the centre as proof of travel to a medical appointment, in case the purpose of their journey is requested by the authorities. Further updates will be posted to this page if the situation changes.

Background

In March 2020 fertility treatment across the country was ordered to stop until the extent of the current Covid crisis was known. This was to help prevent the spread of the virus and protect the NHS. All treatment had to stop by 15th April 2020 at the very latest. On 1st May 2020 the Government announced that from 11th May 2020 fertility clinics could apply to reopen. Our application to the HFEA to restart treatments was successful and treatments restarted at the beginning of June 2020.

The safety of our patients and clinic staff remains a top priority and our previous processes have had to change so that we can provide a safe service for our patients and a safe working environment for our staff. Our regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and our national professional bodies British Fertility Society (BFS) and the Association of Reproductive Clinical Scientists (ARCS) have set out how they expect us to achieve this.

In the event of a further lockdown it is the clinic’s intention to continue carrying on treating patients unless we are told to stop either by our regulators the HFEA, our professional bodies or a decision made by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust..

 

Coronavirus – General Information

Corona viruses are a group of viruses that are common across the world. In December 2019 a novel (new) corona virus affecting people was identified and has quickly spread across the world. For most people corona virus causes a mild flu like-illness characterised by a persistent cough, fever and/or a loss of the sense of smell/taste but for others it can be a serious illness with shortness of breath and other complications that are unfortunately fatal in some people. The disease caused by the novel corona virus is called Covid-19. Other people infected by the virus have no symptoms at all (asymptomatic) but are still capable of passing the disease to others. There is lots of information available on corona virus, the symptoms and how you can avoid spreading the virus. Please see reputable sites such as:

NHS UK

Gov.UK

Women who are currently pregnant may want to read the Royal College of Gynaecologists (RCOG) statement

 

Pregnancy and the COVID-19 Vaccination

(updated 20th December  2021)

All women of child bearing age are asked to read the GOV.UK Information prior to vaccination.

On 16th April 2021 the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)  updated their guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant women. On 12th December 2021 this information was updated advising all UK adults, including pregnant women to have a booster vaccine (third dose).

Although there is no safety data for COVID-19 vaccinations, there is no known risk from other non-live vaccines in pregnant women. If you are offered a COVID-19 vaccine you should review the information available in order to make a decision. If you choose to have the COVID-19 vaccine this will not delay your treatment with us.

The Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS) and British Fertility Society (BFS) COVID Group have released an addendum to the joint guidelines regarding COVID 19 vaccination as well as a set of FAQs in response to questions that patients have been asking about Covid-19 vaccines and fertility.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) issued a statement on 9th April 2021 regarding the safety of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, the risk of blood clots and whether this poses any additional considerations for fertility patients and pregnant women. This statement is supported by ARCS and BFS. You can read this statement using the link below.

The RCOG updated their Frequently asked questions (FAQ) on 14th December 2021. A link to this information is below.

Please be aware that the JCVI and RCOG guidance is under regular review and recommendations for patients trying to achieve a pregnancy could change at any time. The links to all these articles are below:

GOV.UK: Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation: advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, 30 December 2020

GOV.UK: COVID-19 Vaccination – A Guide for Women of Childbearing Age Who Are Pregnant, Planning a Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

British Fertility Society: COVID-19 Vaccination – Addendum: ARCS-BFS Joint Working Group

British Fertility Society: COVID-19 Vaccination

RCOG Statement in Response to Change in Guidance Around the Oxford Astra-Zeneca Vaccine

JCVI Issues New Advice on COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant Women

The Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS) and British Fertility Society (BFS) UK Update to COVID-19 Guidance

COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy and breastfeeding (rcog.org.uk)    14/12/2021

 

Fertility Service delivered by Shropshire and Mid Wales Fertility Centre

Further information on the current situation at the Shropshire and Mid Wales Fertility Centre and what this might mean for you as an individual are detailed below.

Patients at various stages of the fertility pathway during lockdown were triaged to identify those who were most in need of fertility treatment for clinical reasons. These patients were given priority. Following that, we saw patients in around the same order that they would have been seen prior to close down. You will be pleased to hear that all patients affected by delays during lockdown have now been seen.  Should we experience another close down in the future the same method of triaging will be applied, with those in the most clinical need being prioritised.

You will appreciate that due to social distancing guidelines that unfortunately we are not going to be able to see our “normal” numbers of patients from the outset and that there may continue to be some delays to your treatment as we work through these unprecedented times. Clinic staff are doing everything they can to get everyone seen as quickly and as safely as possible and we appreciate your patience.

Out-patient appointments,where possible  are done over the telephone or a new video calling service called “Attend Anywhere”. However  there are some appointments that will require you to come into the fertility department e.g. for a physical examination such as a scan or to sign paperwork. Please be aware that our staff will be wearing additional PPE to safeguard both themselves and our patients.

For us to be able to deliver a safe service in these challenging times you will notice a number of changes to the way we operate.

It goes without saying that anyone with symptoms of the virus, who have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms of the virus or has been told to self isolate should not attend the fertility unit for any reason. For some, this may mean that their treatment cycle may be abandoned, postponed or be interrupted. You will be asked to wear a face covering to your appointments; you should put your own face covering on before you enter the building. We will ask you to swap it to a surgical mask, which we will supply, when you arrive in the department.

Patients and staff may be asked additional questions about their health and lifestyle to ensure they are not putting themselves at unnecessary risk of Corona Virus infection. In addition, patients and staff will be asked to sign up to a Code of Conduct promising to keep themselves safe as much is practicable and to comply with the current Government guidance on social distancing and our conditions including self isolation, where necessary.

Please be aware that patients and attending partners will be required to have covid swabs taken in the run up to their treatment (egg collection and embryo transfer). You will both be required to self isolate following the final swab that is taken before treatment and if you are having an embryo transferred you will need to remain in self isolation until this part of the treatment is complete. This can be for around a week and patients will need to make provision for this in terms of time off work etc. For patients having treatment that is complete in one visit (IUI, Endometrial Scratch, ERA test or HyCoSy) you should be prepared to isolate for 3 days prior to the procedure, depending on the actual day the swab is taken. If you are committing to treatment you will need to commit to this period of isolation in line with our hospital Trust policy. This is to minimise the risk of your treatment being disrupted by one of you developing symptoms at this crucial stage as well as keeping our staff and other patients safe.

 

Embryo Storage

Previous patients should be assured that our teams of scientists were on site throughout the close down period to ensure all embryos, eggs and sperm in storage are cared for in the same manner as they would be in normal circumstances. We have had enquiries about invoicing for their storage. Patients who were scheduled for a frozen transfer (FET or FBT) and have had it postponed due to the pandemic and who only have 1 or 2 embryos/blastocysts remaining in storage (i.e. would have used all of their remaining embryos in the postponed FET/FBT) will not be invoiced for embryo storage during the extra storage period incurred by the lockdown. Other patients will continue to be billed as normal.

 

Support and Counselling

If you feel you need additional support please feel free to contact the nursing department on 01743 261202 option 2. We can arrange a telephone counselling appointment with our specialist fertility counsellor if necessary. Counselling appointments continue to be available but all will be telephone or video appointments rather than face to face.

Please note that our face-to-face monthly support groups t have been replaced by virtual groups organised by Fertility Network UK. Please see Fertility Network UK for further details on how to join in with the zoom groups.

 

Monthly Patient Open Evening

Although face to face drop in appointments have been suspended the open evening is now back up and running as a telephone clinic. If you’d like a free, no obligation call from one of our professionals please email  shropshireivf@nhs.net  stating that you’d like an open evening appointment and ensuring you leave your telephone number. You need to be available between 6-8pm on the first Wednesday of the month for this call back. Please do not include any clinical or personal information in an email as your personal email address may not be secure.