Fertility clinics in the UK will be able to reopen from 11 May 2020. 

NHS and private clinics must first show they can offer safe and effective treatment, the fertility regulator said. The move is part of efforts to increase supply now that the peak of the epidemic is over, but the Commission says there must be no waiting rooms and no shortage of qualified staff.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement at the government’s daily briefing on coronavirus, saying he knew “how time sensitive and important” this was for families affected.

“When I say thank you to all those staying at home, of course, I’m saying thank you on behalf of the lives you are saving – but also on behalf of the lives the NHS can now create,” he said.

Sally Cheshire, chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) – said the closure of clinics had been “extremely distressing” for patients and this would be “good news” for those trying for a much longed-for family.

Fertility services have been suspended in the UK for the first time since the lockout began, according to the NHS.

We asked Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director of CREATE Fertility and abc IVF the steps they are taking to restart treatment.

How do you think  COVID-19 will affect restarting treatment?

As soon as the HFEA allows us to restart, we are ready to resume our treatments for both NHS and private patients: we have adequate staff and facilities available across our national network of clinics, and our patients are very keen to get started as soon as possible. 

We have also been developing protocols for safe practices, and working with our HFEA inspector, to ensure that approved policies are put in place to protect our patients, staff and the public. 

There should be no delay for us at CREATE Fertility and abc IVF to get going as soon as we get the green light from the HFEA.”

What safety precautions will your clinic have to put into place to be able to comply and treat patients safely? 

“We are developing internal guidelines and closely working with the HFEA to ensure that all safe practices are followed as necessary during the Covid-19 crisis.”

Are patients going to be required to take any additional medication and if so what are the potential risks to mother and child?

“There will be no need for patients to take any additional medication, as we will continue to take extra care to reduce any potential risks and complications. At CREATE Fertility and abc IVF, we are very proud to already have protocols in place to reduce complications, such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.” 

If social distancing guidelines continue is it possible or practical for transfers to happen?

“Yes – with social distancing guidelines, we should be able to carry out and complete treatments as required.”

If the HFEA said that fertility treatment could resume tomorrow how long before your clinic would be able to start accepting their first patients?

“We will work in conjunction with the HFEA to restart, and we will be able to resume treatments as soon as it is possible to.”

Finally, if a patient had paid for fertility treatment at your clinic and has subsequently become pregnant naturally where do they stand?

“If a patient has paid for treatment, but has since conceived naturally, they will be able to request a refund of their fees.”

As the clinics ready themselves to restart treatment both staff and patients will need to take extra precautions for the foreseeable future. 

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How do you think  COVID-19 will affect restarting treatment?

As soon as the HFEA allows us to restart, we are ready to resume our treatments for both NHS and private patients.

If the HFEA said that fertility treatment could resume tomorrow how long before your clinic would be able to start accepting their first patients?

If a patient has paid for treatment, but has since conceived naturally, they will be able to request a refund of their fees.