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Covid-19: Second Lockdown and Impact on Fertility Treatments
General Manager
2020-11-03

Covid-19: Second Lockdown and Impact on Fertility Treatments

On Saturday 31 October the Prime Minister announced a second lockdown in England beginning, subject to Parliamentary approval, on Thursday 5 November. Patients considering or going through something so emotionally challenging such as fertility treatment are now understandably anxious. 

GENNET City Fertility statement on fertility treatment services - effective 3 November 2020

I would like to confirm that GENNET City Fertility will follow the government guidance, guidelines issued by the British Fertility Society (BFS) as well as HFEA recommendations in order to deliver safe treatment for patients and in order to protect our members of staff as well. At this point in time it is still unsure whether there will be any further restrictions introduced moving forward, however, I would like to reassure every single patient that the clinic has always been very proud of supporting our patients no matter the circumstances and especially now during the pandemic and we will strive to do so also now. 

Please note that we will do everything we can to minimise any emotional and financial impact that the second lockdown might have on patients seeking fertility treatment. 

GENNET City Fertility have implemented strict internal policies for staff when it comes to hygiene, travel, and day-to-day activities to minimise any risk of potential transmission.

We do follow the government guidelines in terms of social distancing so all meetings, including the ones taking place in the clinic amongst staff, are done remotely.

It is mandatory for all patients and members of staff to wear a face mask throughout the day and we do provide hand sanitisers, antibacterial sprays, and wipes throughout the clinic for both patients and members of staff to use. Employees are also required, where possible, to clean the area after each patient.

We do regularly check the temperature of all employees, patients, and other people before they are allowed to enter the site. Anyone with any Covid-19 symptoms or higher temperature will not be allowed to enter the site and will be recommended to follow the government guidelines in terms of self-isolating.  

In the worst possible scenario where the clinic would have to be closed due to the majority of employees being diagnosed with or having symptoms of Covid-19, we do have 2 reciprocal agreements in place – one with Bart’s NHS ACU just around the corner from us and the other one with a clinic in Harley Street area. This means that the treatments that have started would be finished.

Finally, I would like to share below the HFEA statements dated 2nd November and also the previous one from 13th October 2020. 

For regular updates by the regulator please follow this link https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/covid-19-and-fertility-treatment/

HFEA statement on fertility treatment services – effective 2 November 2020 (source here)

On Saturday 31 October the Prime Minister announced a second lockdown in England beginning, subject to Parliamentary approval, on Thursday 5 November. This follows earlier decisions by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to introduce a variety of similar measures. 

Fertility patients are understandably anxious at this time and in the light of these developments we are issuing a further statement to set out our position on fertility treatment across the UK and the expectations we have of clinics.

At this current time, we have no plans to implement a national closure of fertility clinics. HFEA licensed clinics have incorporated safe ways of working for patients and clinic staff during the ongoing pandemic as set out in their Treatment Commencement Strategy in May 2020. 

At this time, none of the governments across the UK are suggesting that patients should postpone treatment – for example, the updated guidance coming into force on Thursday in England includes permission to be outside your home “for any medical concerns, reasons, appointments and emergencies.”

However, with Covid19 cases increasing and hospital admission and death rates predicted to be significantly higher than in the first wave, we expect clinics to promptly review their policies and procedures to ensure renewed detailed action plans are integrated into clinical care immediately.

We expect all clinics to demonstrate how their service can be safely maintained and how they can minimise any possible further impact on the wider NHS, for example by doing all they can to minimise referrals to emergency care. Clinics should consider implementing a freeze-all strategy for patients at higher risk of referral and assess patients to identify those at greater risk of requiring NHS care.

We will closely monitor the situation and request that any referrals made by licensed clinics to an NHS facility other than their own clinic be reported through the HFEA incident reporting system. We expect clinics to continue to follow professional and local guidance and let us know immediately if there is a local decision to suspend the services they provide.

Looking ahead, the HFEA will continue to review any new guidance produced by the Government and devolved administrations, the NHS and Professional Societies and make further statements as necessary.

HFEA statement on fertility treatment services – effective 13 October 2020 (source here)

In light of the worrying increase in Covid-19 cases and changes to local lockdown, the HFEA wants to provide some reassurance about fertility treatment.

The changes that clinics put in place from May 2020 onwards, to comply with professional guidelines and keep patients safe, mean that we hope a new national closure of fertility clinics should not be necessary.

All HFEA licensed clinics had to set out a Treatment Commencement Strategy in May 2020 showing how they could provide a safe service for their staff and patients during the pandemic.  These strategies are kept under regular review by clinics and our inspectors, and all clinics should follow the latest guidance from the UK professional bodies - the British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists.

As the pandemic continues, we recognise that individual clinics may face circumstances where they will have to consider whether they can continue to maintain a safe service for a period of time – for example if they have a high level of staff sickness or their local hospital trust decides to restrict some patient services.

We expect clinics to follow professional and local guidance and to review and adapt their treatment strategy to ensure fertility treatment can continue to be provided safely.

Lukas Beranek
General Manager