Bourn Hall Wickford helps patients make up for lost time

Bourn Hall Wickford has expanded its team to support patients needing IVF in Essex and North London 

When the HFEA instructed all UK fertility clinics to cease all treatment at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, hundreds of patients had their treatment suspended.

Bourn Hall was one of the first to meet the HFEA requirements to reopen in May and did so by transforming the way it works. Following positive patient feedback, it has strengthened its team to provide a responsive service for its patients and help them make up for lost time.

Bourn Hall Wickford opened in 2018 as a purpose-built fertility clinic, supporting patients across Essex, Suffolk and north and east London at all stages of their fertility journey.

The Bourn Hall Wickford team
The Bourn Hall Wickford team, from left to right: Dr Arpita Ray, Regional Lead Clinician, Essex; Katie Rees, Fertility Nurse Specialist; Abbi Potts, Patient Services Administrator; Angela Leach, Fertility Nurse Specialist; Louise White, Healthcare Assistant; Grace Phiri, Advanced Nurse Specialist; Dr Humera Zaheen, Consultant Gynaecologist and IVF Specialist; Jackie Richardson, co-Lead Nurse, Essex; Carrie Harding, Senior Patient Services Administrator; Kate Snellgrove, Quality Control Coordinator; Kate Pleace, co-Lead Nurse, Essex; Gill Williams, Healthcare Assistant; Anne O’ Leary, Regional Lead Embryologist; Dr Jitendra Jadhav, Consultant Gynaecologist & IVF Specialist
Dr Arpita Ray, Regional Lead Clinician IVF in Suffolk

Expanding the Wickford team

Dr Arpita Ray is the lead clinician at Bourn Hall Wickford, she says: “We were given just three weeks to safely stop treatment; we phoned hundreds of patients and gave those that had started treatment the option to continue and freeze their embryos or to suspend their treatment with no knowledge of when it might start again.”

The clinic started to reopen in May 2020 and has introduced remote working and virtual consultations, strengthened its links with GP practices and regional hospitals and is investing in its team to increase their capabilities.

Worried about your fertility, talk to your GP 

The first step in your journey is a visit to your GP.  We are delighted that Dr Humera Zaheen, a fertility consultant and practicing GP has joined the team.

Dr Zaheen is an experienced gynaecologist who also works as a portfolio GP across several practices, advising patients at the very start of their journey. As a fertility specialist she is also able to recognise when they should be fast-tracked for diagnosis, particularly those over 35 when fertility declines.

“When this job came up it was really a blessing,” she says. “And it’s been very good. It’s an honour to join such a wonderful team. They say Bourn Hall is like a family and it really does feel like a family.”

Dr Humera Zaheen, Consultant Gynaecologist and IVF Specialist
Abbi Potts, Patient Services Coordinator

Greeted by patient services – Abi joins the team

The first point of contact with the clinic is often through patient services, and former utilities company customer relationship manager Abbi Potts jumped at the chance to join the team. “I’m local to the clinic, and I wanted to work closer to home; the pandemic makes you realise things like that.

“I was just really eager for this job. Helping people to have children is so much more fulfilling than sorting out electricity and gas! I’m really enjoying it – learning new things every day.”

Any questions? Talk to a fertility nurse like Katie 

Bourn Hall has also attracted fertility nurses like Katie Rees who was working for a London clinic and was keen to work in a smaller team where staff have the opportunity to really get to know all the patients. She says: “I was a bit nervous starting at Bourn Hall as it was in the middle of the pandemic, and I wasn’t sure what to expect but I love my job. When patients first come in, you explain the basics, see them as they go through the treatment, and hopefully at the end they come back with a baby – it’s not often in nursing you get to see the whole process from start to finish. It’s one of the only fields of nursing where the patients aren’t sick and you’re bringing joy to them.”

Katie has just completed a nurse prescriber’s course at the University of Essex, supported by Bourn Hall, this has given her an enhanced knowledge of the medication, which helps when talking to the patients.

Katie Rees, Fertility Nurse Specialist

If you are interested in joining our team please take a look at our current vacancies.

Gill Williams, Healthcare Assistant

Opportunity for a chat – Gill joins as a healthcare assistant

Alongside the nurses are the Healthcare Assistants, Gill Williams and Louise White, who are both new starters in 2021. Gill and Louise provide support in theatre and have recently taken responsibility for twice weekly blood clinics. As people sit to give their samples they often open up about their concerns.

Gill says: “I’ve had a few instances where I’ve chatted to patients, and then they start to talk about what is worrying them. Sometimes the strain can be a bit overwhelming and they want to talk. This is one of the things that got me interested in taking up the opportunity to do a counselling course.

“The course is to give me the confidence to help somebody who is upset or stressed.”

Bourn Hall has adapted its services during the pandemic to enable patients to access expert advice and support virtually as well as face-to-face. This flexibility has proven popular with patients as it means both partners can attend consultations more easily and they don’t need to take as much time off work.

More support for the journey

The fertility journey can be a bit of roller-coaster of emotions.  Our patient services and medical team are happy to answer questions about appointments, treatment and next steps but it might be that you would appreciate the opportunity to talk about how you are feeling.  We have a Fertility Support Group with online meetings every month.  These meetings are facilitated by Jackie Stewart, an independent fertility counsellor and just seeing and talking to others with shared experiences can be helpful.

Bourn Hall Wickford, IVF in Essex and North London

Bourn Hall Wickford, 25 London Road, Wickford, Essex, SS12 0AW.

The clinic on London Road provides patients with self-funded and NHS IVF in Essex and North London. It has on-site parking for visitors and is within walking distance of the railway station.

The clinic is just off the A127 and in easy reach of the A12, with  good public transport links via bus and train.

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