Virtual IVF consultations offer patients a head-start in starting their family.
Putting IVF treatment on hold has been devastating for patients and staff, says Bourn Hall Chief Executive Dr Mike Macnamee, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. As the NHS prepares to resume non-life critical operations the clinic is gearing up for the future by introducing online IVF consultations for the first time.
In line with government advice all new fertility treatments were stopped in March and current patients had their treatment suspended. For many this involved freezing all their embryos ready for embryo transfer when it is safe to do so.
For the clinic and its patients this period has been heart-breaking.
Mike continues: “The guidelines for clinics were introduced overnight and the implications for each patient were different depending on their stage of treatment. This period has been very distressing; particularly for those in their late 30s and above where time is very precious.
“One piece of comfort is that where patients were able to proceed with egg collection and had all their embryos frozen this will not have been detrimental to their treatment outcome, as frozen and fresh embryos have an equal chance of success in creating a baby.”
Preparing to fast-track treatment
Although all fertility testing and treatment is currently on hold, the government announced on May 1st that clinics with a sound Treatment Commencement Strategy could apply to reopen. In preparation for this, Bourn Hall has been working on a robust plan, including the use of PPE, that will ensure the safety of patients and staff. This strategy has to be approved by the government’s fertility regulator (the HFEA) and the application process to gain this approval can begin from 11 May.
In addition, the Clinic is introducing virtual consultations with a fertility doctor, using a secure online clinical consulting room to fast-track treatment when it is available. IVF treatment takes about 9 weeks.
“If you have results from previous fertility investigations that suggest you need IVF treatment then we are offering online consultations immediately with one of our specialist fertility doctors,” Mike explains. “Our consultant will discuss your results, talk through your treatment options and prepare a personalised treatment plan.”
Time is critical
If you have not yet had diagnostic tests this is not a problem. The consultant can still give you bespoke advice and put in place a provisional plan. Once the clinic is re-opened, it will be able to quickly perform any necessary tests in one appointment and refine the plan accordingly.
“Time is critical in fertility treatment,” Mike continues. “By having a consultation in the next few weeks you will be in our booking system and we will be able to contact you directly about your next steps as soon as we are able to.
“There is much that people can do while in lockdown to boost their fertility health and the measures we are implementing will mean a smooth and rapid patient journey for those wanting to start a family.”