COVID-19 Information

This webpage has been added to keep current, prospective and past patients up to date on the developments affecting our fertility service. It was last updated on 25th June  2020.

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 can apply to reopen. We are delighted to inform our patients that our application to the HFEA to restart treatments was successful.

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. 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 and fever 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

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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

Reopening of the service delivered by Shropshire and Mid Wales Fertility Centre

Further information on the local plans for reopening the Shropshire and Mid Wales Fertility Centre and what this might mean for you as an individual are below. This has been updated on 25th June 2020.

Patients at various stages of the fertility pathway have been triaged to identify those who are most in need of fertility treatment for clinical reasons. These patients will be given priority. Following that, we will be seeing patients in around the same order that they would have been seen prior to close down. 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 will inevitably be delays to your treatment as we catch up. Clinic staff are doing everything they can to get everyone seen as quickly and as safely as possible and whilst we appreciate that all our patients are desperate to know when they are likely to be treated we are unfortunately unable to give everyone specific dates at the moment whilst we continue triaging and outpatient appointments. We appreciate your patience in waiting to be called.

Out-patient appointments have restarted. Where possible these are done over the telephone but 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 some people may be seen out of chronological order at this time but please be assured they will not be “jumping the queue” for treatment and will be asked to wait longer further down the pathway.  . Therefore it is important that you don’t compare the timescale of your treatment pathway with anyone else you know who is also being seen in the department. Egg collections restarted in the week of 15th June. We are not working at full capacity initially but are building up to that slowly over the course of a few weeks.

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 or who have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms of the virus should not attend the fertility unit for any reason. For some, this may mean that their treatment cycle may be abandoned or be interrupted. You will be asked to wear a face covering to your appointments; you should put this on before you enter the building. Please supply your own wherever possible, we will ask you to swap it to a surgical mask, which we will supply, when you arrive.

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. Please note that our face-to-face monthly support groups are not taking place but 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.

You can expect your appointments to be different. We hope to be able to deliver some by telephone and in the future video call. Indeed, many appointments have been able to continue in this manner whist we have been closed for treatments. Those that you have to attend for may be pooled together where possible to reduce the number of journeys you need to make. Please be aware that our staff will be wearing additional PPE to safeguard both themselves.

Patients and staff will 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.

Funding Fertility Treatment

We have had assurances from all our local commissioning groups, Shropshire CCG, Telford and Wrekin CCG and Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) that no-one  on their waiting lists at the time treatments were paused will be disadvantaged by the delay to treatment. For example anyone who was previously eligible for treatment and has now passed the maximum age permitted for funded treatment will still be treated as they were eligible at time treatment was halted.

Embryo Storage

Previous patients should be assured that our teams of scientists have been 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 an 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.

Counselling Appointments

Counselling appointments continue to be available but all will be telephone appointments rather than face to face. If you would like a counselling appointment please call the unit on 01743 261202 option 2 so that we can put you in touch with Julie.

Monthly Fertility Network UK Support Group

This is cancelled until further notice. Support is available from the charity in the way of individual calls, online support forums and information. A monthly zoom group with clinic and external speakers is held via Zoom. Please see the Fertility Network UK.

Monthly Patient Open Evening

This is cancelled until further notice as we are unable to pre-screen people for a drop in session. If you have particular queries please call 01743 261202 ex 2 or email shropshireivf@nhs.net Please do not include any clinical or personal information in an email as your personal email address may not be secure.