UK Government announces extension to storage time limit of eggs, sperm and embryos
11 May 2020 by Charlotte Knappett
On the 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. As from today, the 11th May 2020 they will, however, be able to apply to re-open.
This halt has understandably caused concern to those whose treatment was halted due to the Coronavirus, and those whose lives are affected financially or personally which may delay their plans.
What does the UK Government say about this?
On the 27th April, the UK Government announced that the current 10 year storage time limit will be extended by 2 years so that those undergoing fertility treatment during the Coronavirus outbreak have more time to continue treatment.
The UK Government Website quotes Health Minister, Lord Bethell, who said:
Many people rely on fertility treatment as their only hope to start a family and the current pandemic means some will have to put their hopes on hold.
We are taking steps to ensure during these extraordinary times, those that have embryos, sperm, or eggs stored as part of their treatment are not unfairly caught out by the existing storage limits and have the best possible opportunity to start their family in the future.
I know for some people the pausing of services will be extremely worrying and we are constantly assessing when it will be appropriate to commence fertility services again while balancing the pressures of the pandemic on our NHS and workforce.
It is notable that the Government launched a consultation earlier this year for views on whether the current law to store their frozen eggs, sperm, and embryos for 10 years should change due to the improvement of technology. In addition, the consultation will also consider whether women are disproportionately affected by the current time limit. The consultation closed today on the 5th May 2020.
Read more on legal issues that have arisen as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic at our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.