As of Wednesday 30 December, Westminster has announced tighter restrictions on regions across England
The Governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are also implementing Covid-19 restrictions.
As a result, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has issued a new statement. They recognise that while private fertility clinics are permitted to continue to offer treatment, theyknow that NHS trusts may be too crippled by the recent pandemic surge to continue operating normally.
As NHS staff are needed for deployment to other parts of hospitals and trusts, fertility departments are forced to scale back the treatments they can offer
If you are currently undergoing treatment with an NHS hospital, you should get in touch as soon as possible to learn about updates that may affect you.
The HFEA are closely monitoring the situation
They ask that any private clinic sending a request or referral to an NHS facility report the occurrence via the HFEA incident reporting system. Clinics are asked to carefully follow all local guidance and abide by national and local restrictions.
Currently, the HFEA has not altered their guidance
Clinics are still permitted to conduct any and all fertility treatments. However, they have committed to reviewing “any new guidance produced by the Government and devolved administrations, the NHS and Professional Societies and make further statements as necessary.”
Hospitals around the country have felt the pressure. Homerton Hospital, in East London, has ceased egg collection until at least early February. In a message posted on their site on 23 December, they informed patients that “planned activities now need to be postponed to allow the existing workforce to care for Covid patients and keep the premises safe and secure for patients and staff.”
Frozen Embryo Transfer Cycles, Intrauterine Insemination Cycles, and Ovulation Induction Cycles will all continue.
Many other hospitals around the country will likely soon announce the same restrictions, and many already have.
This has left thousands of people in limbo as their fertility treatments are once again on an indefinite hold
The stress and hopelessness are once against mounting – if you are affected, get in touch with your clinic and speak to them about counselling options. This uncertainty is hard on everyone, and particularly painful for those waiting for fertility treatments.
One positive note remains the extended storage limits for frozen eggs, sperm and embryos
As of 1 July 2020, the HFEA announced new regulations for storing human gametes. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Statutory Storage Period for Embryos and Gametes) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 increase the storage limit by two additional years.
These changes mean that you can store your frozen eggs, sperm and embryos for 12 years in total, so that Covid-19 restrictions will not irreversibly impact your treatments.
These are extraordinary times and we can get through this uncertain time together
More positive news is that vaccines are now reaching many and more arriving over the next few weeks.
What do you think about the HFEA’s new statement? Are your fertility treatments being negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic? What has your experience been? We would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org