Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Keeping you updated

Is it business as usual at CRGW?

Updated 3.6.20 20:15

At CRGW are monitoring the Coronavirus COVID-19 situation in the UK closely, in particular the advice issued by NHS Wales the government and the HFEA. Current advice and reaction to what is an evolving situation can change regularly so please use this page as a source of update which we will update should anything change for our patients.

3.6.20 20:15

CRGW Cardiff, Bristol & Swansea: We re-open in the week starting 15th June with treatments commencing later in June.

CRGW Plymouth: Our newest clinic in the CRGW group gained its HFEA treatment license at the end of May. We now await clearance for patients to enter the clinic from a COVID-19 point of view and hope to have clearance for this later this week.

We will keep an updated list on this page as to when various treatments, options and procedures will be available in each of our clinics.

We will also alter this page shortly to reflect how fertility appointments and treatments will look following the pandemic with social distancing measures etc employed. This page will thereafter become a hub for patients attending clinic to answer all of their questions and concerns and also to allow patients to electronically complete required pre-visit questionairees quickly and easily.

19.5.20 20:45

What are the next steps in accessing treatment at CRGW following lockdown?

Following this weeks approval for CRGW to resume treatment services by our regulator the HFEA this marks another step in the re-opening of our clinics and services in Cardiff (Llantrisant), Bristol and Swansea. As outlined in our update on 13.5.20 (below), our time line of starting to see patients from mid June with treatments from the start of July is still firmly on track. Over the next few weeks we will be providing a list of when our various services and options will be available such as when you can book in and when we will be starting sperm tests, scans, blood tests, HSG etc.

What if I wish to have treatment at CRGW Plymouth?
Further to our update for Plymouth patients on 3.5.20 (below) we are now awaiting a review of our treatment licence as a new facility on 2nd June. As such we will have an update on Plymouth in the next few weeks.

13.5.20 21:30

When are CRGW reopening?
CRGW are committed to reopen and restart treatments as soon as we can with all the safety measures in place to be able to treat patients with utmost safety while of course maintaining the safety of our staff. We have put in place a robust pathway to enable this with a view of continuous patient and staff screening and of course social distancing to minimise all but essential clinic visits.
We have had to complete a detailed HFEA self assessment questionnaire which enables us to ensure that all of the preparations we have been making during lockdown meet all required guidelines for treatments to re-start.
Therefore it is the aim of CRGW (and dependant on the HFEA) to begin seeing patients in mid June for treatment planning to allow us to do treatments from the start of July.

3.5.20 18:30

Restarting treatment – information for patients

The HFEA have taken the decision that fertility clinics can apply to reopen from 11 May 2020. To clarify, this does not mean we can start treatments on May 11th. The HFEA are going to send us documentation on May 11th which we will then immediately complete and return to them with the accompanying documentation that we except they will ask for also to evidence that we can safely re-start based on COVID-19 risk. The reason for this is that risk will be different between different IVF clinics (for example an IVF clinic in a large NHS hospital may have greater difficulty restarting fertility treatments if there is a risk in doing so to both fertility patients and also patients already in that hospital.

The safety of patients and clinic staff remains a priority for CRGW and the HFEA. Before we can resume treatment, we must demonstrate that we can provide a safe service for patients and a safe working environment for our staff that complies with recommendations from professional guidance. To do this we must have a COVID-19 treatment commencement strategy in place.

If you have specific questions regarding your medical treatment or the reopening of the clinic, please contact us.

Further information, including some questions and answers for patients can be found on the HFEA website at:

https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/covid-19-and-fertility-treatment/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-patients/

I am a Plymouth patient awaiting treatment at the new CRGW Plymouth clinic. When will my treatment begin?

As a brand new facility, even though the team are the same that you saw at the Ocean Suite and even though CRGW already have licensed clinics elsewhere, CRGW Plymouth has to have an inspection before treatments can start. Our inspection should have happened in April but like everything else was stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic preventing HFEA inspectors attending. Some Plymouth patients have been contacting us asking about the start date of treatment at CRGW Plymouth as they have read that the HFEA have suspended all inspections until September and that they are therefore concerned that their treatments will not happen until after then. However the suspension of inspections is only for routine inspections (that clinics have typically every 2 years). This is not the type of inspection CRGW Plymouth required. During lockdown we have had virtual inspections by the HFEA and the CQC via video call where we have also sent required paperwork to the relevant inspectors. As such while an inspector still has to physically attend that will be simply to sign off all the things that were observed on video calls during lockdown. We expect this inspection to happen soon allowing us to treat patients once all HFEA conditions have been fulfilled and therefore do not expect the start of treatment at Plymouth to be any later than at other IVF clinics including those in the CRGW group.

28.4.20: The HFEA have tweeted a link to frequently asked questions patients may be asking: https://twitter.com/hfea/status/1255112984524963840?s=21

27.4.20: From the HFEA:

  • Due to the pandemic the current 10 year storage limit of embryos and gametes will be extended by 2 years.
  • The HFEA are working towards a date for the resumption of treatment. They have a board meeting this week to review new guidance in the aim of lifting restrictions as soon as possible.

23.4.20: From the HFEA: The HFEA wish to reassure patients and clinics that they are actively working on an exit strategy to enable fertility treatment to resume when Government restrictions have been lifted or relaxed. All updates will be shared on their website.
Sadly at the time of this update the HFEA have not shared any details on their exit strategy.

9.4.20: An update on guidance for patients and professionals has been released today by our regulator the HFEA in coordination with our professional bodies. This guidance can be accessed by clicking on the image below.

Current guidance is as follows:

  • Whilst pregnant women can be generally reassured they are asked to consider themselves a vulnerable group
  • It is expected that UK licenced fertility centres will now be working to suspend treatments
  • UK fertility centres must establish the requirements to maintain a minimum service – this may include non-elective fertility preservation
  • Centres are expected to keep communication open with patients for advice and reassurance
  • Centres are expected to minimise their impact on NHS resources.

We are still doing telephone follow up appointments and new consultations (telephone, Skype or FaceTime.

The clinic phone and emails are still answered daily so contact us with concerns or questions we remain here to offer support.

CRGW are suspending new treatments i.e. we will complete the treatments of patients currently in treatment and taking medication but will not start new patients for fresh treatments for the foreseeable future (with the exception of cancer preservation patients). We will update this webpage regularly to let patients know any change in status and also to inform patients of activities and options that the clinic will be offering during the period of us offering fresh treatment.

As outlined previously CRGW had made the decision in light of the pandemic to suspend fresh donor egg treatments and donations of all fresh gametes for the near future. This will of course continue and again we will update on the status of donations in the coming weeks.

We understand that the news may have an emotional and destressing impact on the individuals involved in treatment. However at CRGW we take the welfare of our patients very seriously and we hope that you understand why we have to come to this conclusion and that it is the right and responsible thing to do.

You will undoubtedly have questions surrounding your treatment and what happens next. Please call the team where we can direct your queries to the most appropriate clinic member to help and guide you or call or email the clinic.

Can we still attend for consultation / follow up / consenting?
Yes, we can still see you for all of these appointments at the time of update though if you prefer we can do this over the phone or via Skype / FaceTime. We may in the coming days and weeks move over to these methods rather than to see patients in person as movement of individuals becomes more restricted. 

As you will have heard many times that the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water and hand sanitiser gel if available. You will see sanitiser gel around the clinic in mobile containers in addition to our usual wall mounted hand sanitisers units.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or shortness of breath.

Please do not enter a CRGW clinic if:

  • you have any of the above symptoms
  • if you have recently returned from any of the high risk areas such as China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Italy, and Iran.
  • if you think you may have been exposed to someone who has or is at risk of catching corona virus.

When in doubt please contact the clinic for advice before attending.

Please check back to this page for updates.

What happens if I have already started treatment and coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts patient treatment ?

Patient treatment could change due to intervention from the government, governing bodies or staff exposure to COVID-19.

In the event of this happening the continuation of patients currently in treatment would be assessed on a case by case basis. Unfortunately if treatments are suspended, we would be unable to refund the costs of any used medication or services provided upto the point of suspension. This would include any blood tests that are rendered out of date by the time of recommencement of treatment after the pandemic eases.

Cancelled treatments that you have paid for:

Cancelled by you: If you feel you have to cancel your treatment because of self isolation, your cycle will be free of charge when you re-book other than the cost of your medication and any out of date blood tests since you will have paid for the treatment prior to your isolation.

Cancelled by CRGW due to government / regulator intervention: If your treatment is cancelled by us due to government or regulator intervention stopping our services your cycle will be free of charge when you re-book other than the cost of your medication and any out of date blood tests since you will have paid for the treatment prior to the cancellation.

Cancelled by CRGW due to staffing : If your treatment is cancelled by us due to staff illness due to the Coronavirus preventing staff performing treatments your cycle will be free of charge when you re-book since you will have paid for the treatment prior to the cancellation and we will pay 50% of your medication cost.

 

I'm pregnant from treatment. What should I do?

The government has advised there is no added risk to pregnant women
Unlike ZIKA virus which we have had to monitor in recent years, there is no added risk of congenital abnormalities from COVID-19
The health and safety of our patients and staff is our number one priority. In order to maintain the highest levels of safety we are following government advice and in many areas exceeding their recommendations to maximise safety.

RCOG statement

The Royal College of Gynaecologists has published a full statement on coronavirus, here are the key points:

1. Pregnant women do not appear to be more susceptible to the consequences of infection with COVID-19 than the general population. Data are limited but special consideration should be given to pregnant women with concomitant medical illnesses who could be infected with COVID-19 until the evidence base provides clearer information. There are no reported deaths in pregnant women at the moment.

2. Only one case of possible vertical transmission (transmission from mother to baby antenatally or intrapartum) has been reported in the literature. Expert opinion is that the fetus is unlikely to be exposed during pregnancy. A case series published by Chen et al tested amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swabs and breastmilk samples from COVID-19 infected mothers and all samples tested negative for the virus.2 Furthermore, in a different paper by Chen et al, three placentas of infected mothers were swabbed and tested negative for the virus. Transmission is therefore most likely to be as a neonate. There is currently no evidence concerning transmission through genital fluids.

3. There are currently no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss in relation to COVID-19. Case reports from early pregnancy studies with SARS and MERS do not demonstrate a convincing relationship between infection and increased risk of miscarriage or second trimester loss. As there is no evidence of intrauterine fetal infection with COVID-19 it is therefore currently considered unlikely that there will be congenital effects of the virus on fetal development.

Recent travel

Category 1 areas

If you have been to a Category 1 area in the last 14 days (includes Hubei province, China; lockdown areas in Northern Italy; Iran; Special care zones in South Korea) please do not come to CRGW. You should stay indoors, avoid contact with other people and call NHS 111 who will advise you of the next steps.

Category 2 areas

If you have been to a Category 2 area in the last 14 days (includes Italy, other parts of mainland China or South Korea; Hong Kong; Japan; Macau; Malaysia; Singapore; Taiwan; Thailand; Vietnam; Laos; Cambodia; Myanmar) AND have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild) then do not come to the clinic. You should stay indoors, avoid contact with other people and call NHS 111 who will advise you of the next steps.

 

What else are CRGW doing?

Our staff

We are briefing our own staff as we learn more as the situation changes or developes. We are encouraging our staff to feel confident about self-isolating if necessary. All staff are fully aware that they must not come to work if they have a temperature or new continuous cough.

Assessment of patients

We will be asking patients about their health when they telephone the clinic and when they arrive at the clinic. To protect our patients and staff, we are asking anyone with symptoms to return home and reschedule their appointment.

Handcleaning

We have increased the number of hand sanitising sprays throughout the clinic. All staff have been advised to increase the frequency of their handwashing and everyone attending CRGW is asked to wash or sanitise their hands when they arrive.

General hygiene

Will have tissues available on reception, please carry tissues with you and use them to catch all coughs and sneezes, then bin the tissue and wash your hands.
Further communication
We are following all government advice very closely and also guidance from our regulator, the HFEA, and expert UK professional bodies like the British Fertility Society and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. These organisations have not recommended that patients should delay or cancel treatment. We are aware that guidance issued by our European colleagues does make this recommendation but we don’t believe this guidance is relevant to the UK.

If you would like to chat to a member of our team, you can call us on 0800 564 2270

Further communication

We are following all government advice very closely and also guidance from our regulator, the HFEA and expert UK professional bodies like the British Fertility Society and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. These organisations have not recommended that patients should delay or cancel treatment.