Coronavirus: IVF services shutdown in UK leaves thousands of women fearing they will be unable have children – inews

Posted: April 26, 2020 at 3:41 am

NewsHealthHuman Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has stopped all fertility treatment at NHS and private clinics due to lockdown measures

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 4:46 pm

Thousands of women are increasingly fearful they will miss their last chance of becoming a mother due to the ongoing shutdown of fertility services across the UK amid the pandemic.

Last week, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) decided to stop NHS and private clinics providing treatment and leaving patients with no idea when their IVF treatment is likely to resume. Women who had already begun a cycle of treatment, which includes being injected with a fertility hormone which increases the number of eggs your ovaries produce, were also told they could not continue.

Those affected say they have been left in limbo. One woman, Sian, who was about to start her second cycle of IVF before it was halted said: "My clinic, although I'm NHS funded, is a private clinic, and they do have the resources and the staff to be able to afford treatments in some cases.

"I do worry if this goes on for longer that it will be too late for me. We have been trying for a baby for a long, long time, and the effect it's having on my mental health, as well as my husband's, is enormous at times. While you do try to keep positive, ultimately I've sacrificed much of my 30s trying to achieve a pregnancy that just hasn't happened.

"I feel especially sorry for those women who have already had their injections because unless you've been through this process, you don't understand the toll fertility treatment has on you."

Unable to guarantee safe service

Sally Cheshire, chair of the HFEA, said one of the reasons why clinics closed was because they could not guarantee a safe service due to NHS staff being moved elsewhere to help with the coronavirus outbreak.

"A lot of equipment in embryology labs is now being used for coronavirus testing as well, so it's a mix of factors," she said. "We have huge sympathy for the thousands of patients who are not able to continue their treatment. In our 30 years of existence this is the most difficult decision the HFEA has had to take."

Exit strategy

The HFEA said in a statement: "We understand what a difficult and emotional time this is for fertility patients with fertility treatment ceasing from 15 April 2020 in line with other NHS and private healthcare.

"Any decision to allow fertility clinics to re-open will consider the views of the UK professional fertility societies and the impact that resuming treatment would have on NHS services. We also need to be assured that clinics are able to provide a safe service to patients and a safe working environment for clinic staff.

"We recognise the distress this closure is causing any patients awaiting fertility treatment and hope that those relying on NHS funding will be allowed to continue their treatment as they expected. We want to reassure patients and clinics that we are actively working on an exit strategy to enable fertility treatment to resume when Government restrictions on social contact and travel are lifted."

Dr Marta Jansa Perez, director of embryology at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: We would advise that patients to contact their local Clinical Commissioning Groups as soon as possible to ask for written confirmation that funding will be maintained for treatment in the future, as we know this is a huge cause of concern for many. Individual IVF services should be able to provide their patients with up-to-date information about their current position, and also professional counselling."

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Coronavirus: IVF services shutdown in UK leaves thousands of women fearing they will be unable have children - inews

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