Updated information on Covid-19 for patients

Following the Government announcement on 4th January new tighter restrictions are now in place across the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We appreciate that this creates a high level of uncertainty and stress for those trying to conceive and would like to reassure you that RHG’s priority remains to keep our patients and staff safe during these extraordinary times.

The clinic remains open with enhanced measures in place to maintain safety, including weekly Covid-19 testing for all the staff in the clinic.

Appointments

Initial and follow up appointments as well as consents signing and medication teaching sessions will all be carried out virtually via Zoom. Patients will still attend the clinic for blood tests, ultrasound scans, egg collections, embryo transfers, intrauterine inseminations, day case surgical procedures and any other situation deemed appropriate by the medical team.

Attending the clinic

At this time we ask that only the patient undergoing treatment attends the clinic; in the case of a heterosexual couple this means that male partners should attend only on the day/s that they are required to produce the semen sample(s). Anyone accompanying a patient whose attendance is not necessary will be kindly asked to remain outside in their car in order to limit the number of individuals inside the clinic at any one time. We also ask that patients do not use public transport, including taxis, for travel to and from the clinic to limit the risk of potential exposure to the virus responsible for Covid-19.

On arrival patients should ring the doorbell and wait to be admitted by a member of our team. They will be asked to step into the temperature screening pod to have a temperature check – this is checked for patients and staff each time they attend. Then they will be asked to sanitise their hands, remove their own mask and gloves and replace these with ones supplied by us. Anyone with a raised temperature ( > 37.5) will not be permitted to enter. Patients will also be provided with a Covid-19 triage form to complete at each visit.

Patients attending for fresh and frozen cycles (including IVF, FETs and IUI) must be provided with the PPE pack and advised to use the provided masks, hand sanitising gel and gloves every time they attend the clinic.

Social distancing is in place throughout the clinic including a one way system for the use of stairs and the lift – the lift is to be used to go upstairs and the stairs to go downstairs (unless you are unable to use the stairs). Appointment times are being spaced to ensure the minimum number of people are present in the clinic at any one time.

Treatment

Before undergoing treatment female partners will be asked to take a Covid-19 PCR test, irrespective of the absence of any symptoms. Patients must also agree to use the provided PPE packs.

Vaccine

The available data do not indicate any safety concern or harm to pregnancy. However, there is still insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy and for women wanting to conceive. However, the most recent advice indicates that pregnant women who are deemed to be clinically vulnerable should discuss the option of vaccine, as their underlying condition may put them at high risk of complications of infection. So, it is more a risk-based approach until data exists to support routine vaccination in pregnant women and those attempting to get pregnant.

The statement published on 12/01/21 by the ESHRE Covid-19 Working Group states that it ‘seems prudent to postpone the start of assisted reproduction treatments (sperm collection, ovarian stimulation, embryo transfer) for at least a few days after the completion of vaccination (i.e. after the second dose) to allow time for the immune response to settle. In the absence of information on the effect of the Covid-19 vaccine on oocytes and sperm, embryo implantation and early stages of pregnancy, and to allow time for antibody development, a more cautious approach could be considered (i.e. postpone the start of ART treatment for up to 2 months).

Assisted reproduction treatments should not be started in women who have had any significant side effects from Covid-19 vaccination (such as an allergic reaction) and until they are considered fit for pregnancy by their physician.’

Support

We understand how difficult the current situation may be for some of our patients and our team remain on hand to provide support and reassurance. Our counsellors are also available should you feel in need of any additional emotional support. Please speak to a member of the team if you would like to arrange an appointment with a counsellor.

We continue to monitor the Government guidelines as well as the advice from the NHS, the HFEA and other professional bodies and will update our own guidance accordingly but in the meantime please do contact the team if you have any queries or concerns.