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 3rd November 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 could apply to reopen. We are delighted to inform our patients that 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 our 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

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

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. This has been updated on 30th October 2020.

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 lockdown 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 have restarted. Where possible these 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 pateints.

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 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 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 and our conditions including self isolation.when 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.

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.

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 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.

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.