UK Government announce that Fertility Clinics can apply to reopen
11 May 2020 by Charlotte Knappett
On 15th April 2020, the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) ordered that both NHS and Private IVF clinics were to halt fertility treatment due to the Coronavirus.
On 23rd March 2020 Sally Cheshire, the Chair of the HFEA, had written an open letter to fertility patients addressing concerns about treatment during this time of the pandemic. She confirmed that clinics had been advised to stop their treatment over the following three weeks, allowing patients to complete any cycle that they had started.
HFEA statistics report that in 2017 65, 087 treatment cycles took place in England alone. There were 91 clinics providing fertility treatment in the UK, to include 78 in England, 6 in Scotland, 4 in Wales, and 4 in Northern Ireland. The closure of fertility clinics will have a significant impact on many people’s lives.
In good news, the Government has now announced that fertility clinics are able to apply to reopen from 11th May. The Health Minister made the announcement during the daily press briefing on the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on 1st May.
The Health Minister confirmed that now we are past peak he was able to announce the restoration of fertility services. The Government wished to open the clinics as soon as it was safe to do.
What is the COVID-19 Treatment Commencement Strategy?
The approval of the HFEA must be obtained to reopen and commence treatment. The clinic is required to submit a written COVID-19 Treatment Commencement Strategy which sets out how they propose to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The delay in treatment may well result in some patients not meeting the NHS age requirements. However, it is understood some clinical commissioning groups have agreed to extend the time limit by six months. You would need to contact your local clinical commissioning group or liaise with your fertility clinic for more information.