Following our latest update on the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic on our clinics, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions below to reassure and guide you through this difficult time. If your question has not been answered below and you still have concerns, please contact us by emailing email@example.com
Q: When will you be resuming treatments?
A: We have now received authorisation from the HFEA to commence treatment at our three full service clinics in Cambridge, Norwich and Wickford. We anticipate that we will be starting some treatments next week.
Initially, we will be performing frozen embryo transfers for those patients who had to freeze all their embryos due to the lockdown and patients whose FET was booked and had to be cancelled.
The next priority will be to re-start fresh embryo treatments (which take a little longer to plan) for patients whose treatment was suspended or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
We will also prioritise female patients aged 40 and above and women with low ovarian reserve. We will continue to provide rapid treatment for emergency fertility preservation e.g. cancer patients before chemotherapy.
If you fall into one of the categories above, we will be in touch with you to discuss your treatment and talk you through the next steps.
If you are an existing Bourn Hall patient but did not have your treatment cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus, and would like to discuss booking a further treatment cycle, please email the nurses on: Contact.firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we have planned the prioritised cycles (as above), we will then be able to look at scheduling your treatment as soon as we have the capacity to do so.
If you were being seen as an NHS funded Level 2 patient or were waiting for a referral to one of our clinics, several of the CCGs have now resumed their funding of this service. Please email any queries you may have to either: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will then begin planning treatments for our new patients as soon as we possibly can. We can help new patients be treatment ready with secure virtual consultations with one of our fertility specialist doctors. You can have your consultation now and get a head start on your treatment by having a personalised treatment plan in place and starting the processes that need to be completed before commencing your treatment. This means you will be ready to start your treatment at the soonest opportunity. Please email email@example.com to book your consultation.
Q: What is Bourn Hall doing to meet the HFEA conditions for re-opening?
A: We have been working on a robust plan that makes sure we can offer treatments safely for all our patients and staff. The protective measures we have put in place include screening everyone visiting our clinics for COVID-19, reducing the number of people in our clinics, following social distancing as much as possible, providing PPE to all who need it, encouraging good hand hygiene, and minimising face-to-face interactions. We are also reducing the need to visit our clinics with telephone appointments and consultations using a secure virtual platform. We also have an e-consenting platform which can be accessed from home to complete consent forms and questionnaires.
To help us keep all our patients and staff safe, we will ask you not to be accompanied by anyone (including your partner) when you visit our clinics. Anyone coming driving to the clinic with you is welcome to wait inside your car in the car park – we just ask that they do not enter the clinic building.
It is still vitally important that you are accompanied home after having a procedure under sedation, such as egg collection or surgical sperm retrieval. We’ll chat to you about how you are getting home when we organise your procedure, and will organise for you to be delivered to the safe care of the person accompanying you home without them needing to come inside the clinic.
With these measures in place, we are very confident that we will meet all the guidelines required to reopen and demonstrate that we are ready for safe clinical practice, allowing us to resume treatments with the highest quality of care for all our patients.
Q: Will all Bourn Hall clinics reopen at the same time?
A: All our full service clinics will open quickly and within the space of the next few weeks. The first clinic to open will be our Cambridge clinic, closely followed by Norwich and Wickford. We can treat satellite patients at our main clinics, so please get in touch with us if you would like to discuss this.
Q: Is it safe to resume treatment?
A: While fertility treatments were paused, we have been considering all aspects of how we can resume treatment safely. We have put many measures in place to keep all our staff and patients safe, including minimising the number of people in our clinics and face-to-face interactions, maintaining social distancing everywhere possible, and having personal protective equipment to the level recommended by Public Health England.
We will be checking that everyone entering our clinics has completed a thorough risk assessment and has a recent Covid-19 negative test result. We feel that this should give you confidence to start treatment safely. It also means we’ll be asking some patients to delay appointments and avoid starting treatment until you have completed your isolation, as advised by the government.
Q: Is it safe for me to become pregnant?
COVID-19 is a new virus, so there is limited scientific and medical evidence on how it affects pregnancy. However, UK’s specialist body, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), has advised that there is no evidence that COVID-19 infection is any worse in pregnancy, increases the risk or miscarriage or pregnancy complications. The RCOG have also advised that there is no evidence of babies being born with harm as a result of COVID-19 infection, and the UK Government has not advised people to avoid becoming pregnant. For these reasons, we have decided to start offering fertility treatments again.
We hope this reassures you, but we of course realise that you may have your own personal reasons for wanting to delay becoming pregnant. If you are worried, you can book a consultation to explore your options, including the possibility of creating and freezing embryos for when you feel ready for a frozen embryo replacement cycle.
Q: Has there been any clarification about how COVID-19 has affected NHS funding for fertility investigations or IVF?
All fertility treatments were suspended on 23 March (including NHS funded treatment) along with other NHS funded elected procedures. From week commencing 11 May, fertility clinics, who meet the HFEA criteria and are approved to restart treatments, can begin to re-open subject to strict safety guidelines enforced by the HFEA.
To ensure fair provision, the Health and Social Care Secretary has written to all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to confirm they are in a position to begin resuming fertility treatments for those in their area with their currently approved providers. He made it clear that all fertility patients should be dealt with fairly and not face any additional disadvantage as a result of the service suspension.
The new measures will mean individuals and couples looking to start fertility treatment will be able to safely continue to do so. We have not yet received any guidance from the CCGs about any changes to NHS funding for IVF due to COVID-19. As and when we receive specific information from the CCGS we will notify you if there are updates which affect your eligibility for NHS funding.
Q: What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 during treatment?
If you start to have symptoms of COVID-19 during treatment, you can choose to cancel your treatment, or we can offer you a test to check if you have an active COVID-19 infection. If you test positive, we will need to cancel your treatment. If you develop symptoms after egg collection but before embryo replacement, we will ask you to freeze all of your embryos and have an embryo replacement once you are fully recovered. To protect all our patients and staff, we will not treat anyone with an active COVID-19 infection until they are fully recovered.
We plan on minimising the possibility of patients developing COVID-19 during treatment by screening everyone before visiting our clinics, and by offering a COVID-19 test. By taking the COVID-19 test before treatment, you can feel confident in starting your treatment and then take informed lifestyle choices to reduce any possible risk of becoming infected while you are having treatment.
Q: What support are you offering patients?
We know that struggling to conceive is emotional challenging, and that many patients feel their anxiety about fertility treatment has been amplified by the current situation. We want all our patients to be able to access much-needed support during this truly difficult and uncertain time.
Our dedicated fertility nurses are available to support you and, though we currently have reduced staff numbers, they can advise you during this difficult time. Our nurses can also refer you to our independent fertility counsellors who are offering appointments by telephone or online via video platforms such as Skype.
One of our counsellors has also written several blogs to support your physical and emotional wellbeing including advice about coping with uncertainty to help you process your emotions and prepare for when treatment resumes.
While you are waiting to start your treatment you can do positive things to get ‘fertility fit’ so you are in the best position possible when your treatment starts – take a look at our blog for advice on improving your fertility at home.
Previous relevant FAQs:
Appointments and consultations:
Q: I am at the beginning of my fertility journey. Should I wait to discuss any treatment options with the clinic until it reopens?
A: To fast track your treatment, we are offering virtual consultations with fertility specialist doctors. We would advise you book one of these to begin your treatment as soon as possible once our clinics open. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Q: I have an appointment booked. Will this still be able to go ahead?
A: We will be in contact with you if you have an appointment booked to discuss the applicable next steps for you. You may still be able to have a consultation over the telephone or secure virtual platform.
Q: Can I still access counselling services?
A: Please email our nursing team on email@example.com who will support you and can refer you to an independent counsellor.
Q: I have emailed the helpline with my question and have not heard back yet. What should I do?
A: Due to the unprecedented amount of emails we are receiving, it is taking us slightly longer to reply. If you have received the automated acknowledgement email from us, this means we have received your email and one of our team will be responding to you personally as quickly as we can. Please bear with us, as this is taking a bit longer than usual in the current circumstances, but rest assured we will get back to you. If you are a current patient, we will be contacting you as soon as we can, following the most recent announcements so please bear with us.
Q: I have had blood tests recently. Will these need to be repeated?
Depending on how much time passes before we can initiate your treatment, we may need to repeat some of your blood tests. We will aim to minimise this and if you have already paid for virology blood tests that have to be repeated, as a direct result of the delay in your treatment due to the coronavirus, these will be repeated free of charge.
Q: I’ve paid for my treatment but it has been cancelled. Can I get my money back?
A: Your account will be credited with the treatment fees which you will be able to put towards future treatments when we are able to reopen. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
Q: I was not able to have an embryo transfer and all my embryos have been frozen, what will happen next?
A: We will look after your frozen embryos in our secure cryostorage facilities until you are ready to continue your treatment. If you had all your embryos frozen you will have been offered a virtual consultation to discuss the next steps with you and our nurses will be in touch to book your embryo transfer when we are able to re-open.
Q: Can I still freeze my eggs/sperm?
A: This service is only available to some cancer patients at the moment as a way of preserving fertility.
Q: Are my frozen embryos/eggs/sperm safe?
A: Definitely. Our Embryologists will be continuing to regularly monitor and maintain the cryostorage in all our clinics. They are also continuously electronically monitored for liquid nitrogen levels and temperature to ensure the safe storage of your eggs, sperm and embryos.
Q: What if I have eggs, embryos or sperm frozen and the storage period is due to expire?
The government have confirmed that they will allow anyone who has frozen their eggs, sperm and embryos to extend their storage for an additional 2 years, as part of wider plans to support those going through fertility treatment during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus related queries:
Q: Could having the coronavirus affect my fertility?
A: There is currently no evidence to suggest that the virus will have an effect on fertility.
Q: If I am pregnant will Covid-19 increase my risk of miscarriage?
A: According to the RCOG, there is currently no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage, early pregnancy loss or congenital effects of the virus on fetal development. More information can be found here.