We can restart treatment
We are delighted to let you know that Leeds Fertility has been given the go ahead by the HFEA to reopen and provide fertility treatments. Each clinic had to submit a very detailed self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) to the HFEA, which covers the stringent safety measures put in place to look after the interests of both patients and staff, so we can proceed with treatment in a safe environment with the minimum risk to all. Leeds Fertility takes your safety very seriously, and has worked tirelessly to put in place numerous measures to satisfy the conditions for reopening:
- That Government restrictions on non-emergency health care are eased
- Restarting Fertility treatment would not have a negative impact on the NHS
- That Fertility clinics can provide a safe service
- There is no evidence that COVID 19 impacts on the health of pregnant women or their babies
The information below provides details of the measures we have put in place to protect your and our staff safety. These do involve a significant personal commitment from both you and the clinic staff, which we ask each and every one undergoing fertility to confirm in writing. It is vital that you take time to read through all these documents so you are fully informed about the risks of coronavirus, how you might reduce the risk of infection including recognising the early signs of a coronavirus infection, and the impact that an infection with COVID 19 might have on pregnancy after successful treatment.
Government restrictions on non-emergency health care are eased
The Government announced on April 29th that over the next few weeks non urgent medical treatments would be re-introduced, prompting the HFEA to out together strict conditions which all clinics have to comply with to allow them to open for practice. These conditions were published on May 11th 2020.
Restarting Fertility treatment would not have a negative impact on the NHS
Leeds Fertility is based at Seacroft hospital, an isolated hospital site, not used to treat COVID 19 patients on the outskirts of Leeds with large easily accessible car parks. Our fertility staff have been kept together through this crisis and are now all assembled ready to help you on your fertility journey. Leeds Fertility is a large spacious clinic which allows new social distancing measures to be easily accommodated. We have a plentiful supply of the type of PPE needed to treat IVF, which is considered a relatively low risk procedure. This will not detract from the treatment of COVID 19 patients in the main Leeds hospitals.
Although IVF treatment does pose a small risk of medical complications (outlined in our information leaflets), we have the facilities to manage the majority of problems within the clinic itself and rarely need to use the main hospital services at St James hospital in central Leeds. If you live locally and do need admitting to hospital, we will refer you directly to the Gynaecology Assessment and Treatment Unit (GATU). As you know Leeds Fertility sees patients from a huge part of the North of England, and for those living some distance from Leeds you may have to use your local health service if problems arise. It is important to recognise that most NHS services will have changed and adapted their policies due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Therefore, if you do have an emergency and need to use these services, it is best to contact your own GP who will be best placed to advise how the local services have been reconfigured, and how best to help you. If the situation is acute, you may need to go straight to the local Accident and emergency services.
Unfortunately, there are some of you that have co-existing health needs that put you at increased risk if you were to contract COVID 19. Our team of senior doctors are assessing every patient’s medical history in detail, and for those considered to be at high risk we ask that they wait to start their treatment until the current pandemic settles, and we can see the processes we have put in place are effective. Everyone that falls in this category will be contacted individually as soon as possible.
That Fertility clinics can provide a safe service
Changes in the clinic
Leeds Fertility have adopted our spacious airy clinic and our ways of working to maximise the protection to you and your partner. This means that your fertility journey will be a little different. As many of you have already experienced, most of our consultations are now performed by telephone or secure video links to reduce the footfall to the clinic. We are also asking those having their blood tests, sperm tests or scans to attend on their own with their partners remaining out of the clinic, perhaps in the car or hospital grounds. We know this is less personable, but it is an unfortunate necessity to reduce your risk. The day before your appointment you will receive a telephone call from one of staff to complete a standard set of questions that relate coronavirus, and when you attend the clinic you will be asked to have your temperature checked to make sure it is normal. This is what we call a triage process. We will also ask you to wear a simple face mask to reduce the risk of spreading infection. If you have your own cloth face mask, or you have already purchased a commercial face mask we encourage you to use these to help maintain the supply of masks for everyone.
You will still see the same smiley face when greeted by our helpful reception staff inside the clinic. Once in the clinic you will recognise the marked areas familiar to all in the supermarkets, to ensure correct social distancing. Likewise, the seating area in the waiting room has been changed to allow for social distancing. When you are called into your appointment the staff too will be wearing simple face masks and will not shake hands. All equipment used and the treatment rooms are carefully sterilised after each appointment.
For those having procedures like egg collections, inseminations or embryo transfers, we will carefully stagger the times of your appointments to make sure you are in the clinic for the minimum time required to get you ready for your procedure. We have changed the way we operate to allow the required social distancing and plenty of time to thoroughly clean the procedure room and recovery bay between cases. We have also committed to working longer, including treating Saturday and Sunday as normal working days to ensure we can treat as many of you as possible safely.
Sperm tests and treatment samples
Men who require a sperm test and live locally (within 20 miles), will be provided with a semen pot at reception, and asked to produce their sample at home, rather than in the clinic. If this is not possible, or you live a distance away, we can organise for you to use one of our dedicated bedrooms in the clinic. For those producing at home, there will still be set appointment times for the sperm samples to be brought to the clinic for analysis.
As part of your commitment to reduce the risk of developing COVID 19, it is important to follow Government guidance at www.gov.uk/coronavirus , particularly on social distancing and handwashing. We are also asking those embarking on fertility treatment to complete a COVID 19 consent form acknowledging that you have read the relevant information in the weblinks provided, and that during your fertility treatment you confirm that you will observe a strict code of conduct that we have put together to reduce the risk of bringing infection into the clinic. We are asking you to advise us that when you start treatment you have not been diagnosed with COVID 19 or display any of the symptoms of the disease within the preceding 7 days. You will be asked to complete a daily COVID 19 diary sheet during the treatment process and make an undertaking to let us know if you become symptomatic. If you do have a confirmed coronavirus infection, we will have to suspend your treatment cycle to allow time for you to fully recover before you can restart. PDF copies of the Consent and COVID 19 Code of Conduct are found in a file labelled COVID 19 on this website.
Testing for Coronavirus
As part of our commitment to minimize the risk of infection for all having IVF and related procedures, we are going to test both partners for coronavirus at the start of the treatment process, and again on day 9 of stimulation. We ask you to comply with strict social distancing from the start of treatment, then to self-isolate from day 9 to the day after the embryo transfer, a period of approximately 8 to 9 days.
There is no evidence that COVID 19 impacts on the health of pregnant women or their babies
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have not advised women to stop trying naturally to conceive and assisted conception treatments such as IVF pose no increased risk. Generally, it appears that pregnant women are no more likely to be seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop COVID -19. The large majority of women who get COVID-19 whilst pregnant will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.
To date, there is no evidence to suggest that the virus causes any serious harm to the developing baby, or an increased risk of miscarriage, although there have been two cases of probable transmission from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or birth (vertical transmission). In all reported cases of newborn babies developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the babies have been well. Some babies have been born prematurely to women who were very unwell with COVID 19. It is unclear whether the virus caused these premature births, or whether it was recommended that the baby was born early for the benefit of the women’s health recovery.
The RCOG have put together an excellent information resource for pregnant women and their families. The advice in this document has been drawn from their website www.rcog.org.uk . Given the rapid pace of increasing knowledge about this condition, we ask that you visit the RCOG website personally for the latest guidance.
All at Leeds Fertility are committed to helping you successfully through your treatment journey in these difficult and unprecedented times. We recognize that many of you are keen to move forward with treatment as soon as possible and we hope our new efficient but more importantly safe procedures will allow us to help you all in a timely manner taking into account the time lost while we have been closed. Equally we know that some will remain fearful of restarting the treatment process at the current time, and we are here to offer you support. Do not worry your future care will not be compromised by a short delay. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions, which you may find useful (this list is not exhaustive), please see the FAQ item on the news section of the website. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact our helpful administrative and nursing teams on: 0113 2063100 (option 1 for admin and option 2 for nursing).