In its 40th Year, Bourn Hall Clinic near Cambridge has achieved record IVF success rates. In 2020, 56% of patients having IVF with a blastocyst (5-day embryo) transfer achieved a pregnancy.
Martyn Blayney, Head of Science, comments: “I am immensely proud to present the Cambridge clinical pregnancy rates for 2020, which, when viewed overall, represent the best performance we have ever recorded.
“This is an immense achievement when you consider that we were locked down for several months of the year and had to adapt to working in a global pandemic.”
“When I first joined the Embryology Department 32 years ago, we were elated if 20% of patients who had multiple embryos transferred were pregnant at day 15. Now, patients receiving a single fresh blastocyst, regardless of their age, are more likely to leave our clinic clinically pregnant than not.
“This is an incredible achievement to which every member of staff in every department has contributed – well done everyone.”
Keeping going through the pandemic
The clinic closed for a period during the first lockdown in March 2020. Within a few weeks it had developed new ways of working to protect staff and patients from infection and was given approval to reopen by the government IVF regulator the HFEA. New measures included reducing the number of visits required to the clinic, introducing PPE, limiting the amount of patient and staff contact and moving consultations online. It has also introduced a new virtual fertility support group open to everyone with fertility challenges.
Bourn Hall gives patient centred care and this would normally include considerable face-to-face contact; although the patient experience has changed over the last year, the success of treatment has not only been maintained but actually improved.
Martyn continues: “The measures taken in response to the pandemic – a decrease in scans and the strategies to minimise patient and staff contact, to name just two – have been found to be well and truly validated.”
Record IVF pregnancy rates
Bourn Hall was the world’s first IVF clinic when it opened in 1980 and there was a 10% chance of success.
Years of dedicated work in embryology and treatment are behind the increase in success rates and this continues today.
Martyn comments: “Our frozen/thawed embryo outcomes are particularly pleasing. A small focus group identified minor changes that could be made to optimise our luteal support*. This change has undoubtedly contributed to a year-on-year improvement culminating in 2020’s class equaling 45.6% per cycle, a full 10 percentage points above the national average.”
“When you factor in the tremendous upheaval that the pandemic has caused to routine and perceived best practice then these results are nothing short of remarkable.”
To compare with the national averages please see the HFEA website.
*Luteal support is the administration of medication, generally progesterone, to increase the success rate of implantation and early embryo development.