07 May 2020
The new normal: Hope as fertility clinics given permission to reopen following lockdown closures
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused some very difficult and stressful times for us all, but the impact of the closure of fertility clinics and suspension of treatment, must be understandably, emotional and devastating for those involved. It is therefore hugely welcome that centres were permitted to reopen from 11 May 2020.
The British Fertility Society (BFS) issued guidance in March that UK licenced fertility clinics were to suspend treatment; pressure on the NHS, pregnant women being considered a vulnerable category and social distancing all being factors in this decision. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) issued a general direction 0014 on 23 March 2020 directing that fertility centres cease all treatment services by 15 April 2020 at the latest (with the exception of non-elective fertility preservation treatment).
Whilst the interruption to treatment must have been very distressing, it is hugely positive that, from 11 May 2020, clinics were allowed to reopen. The HFEA has issued some updating guidance which states that: “Before a clinic can resume treatment, they must demonstrate that they can provide a safe service for patients and a safe working environment for clinic staff that complies with recommendations from professional guidance.
Clinics must have a COVID-19 treatment commencement strategy in place before they can restart treatment and not all clinics will be able to resume treatment at the same time.”
It is also hugely welcomed that those with frozen eggs, sperm and embryos who are nearing the ten-year storage limit timeframe, now have the option to extend the storage for a further two years to allow for time to enable fertility treatment to resume. The Department of Health and Social Care have issued a statement confirming that : “Anyone who has frozen their eggs, sperm and embryos will be able to extend their storage for an additional two years under new government plans to support those going through fertility treatment during the global coronavirus pandemic.”
This is good news and one which will bring hope to those who have been in a limbo during lockdown. We work with clients who are undertaking fertility treatment in order to start their family be it through surrogacy, donor conception or other assisted reproduction. If you would like any help or advice on the legal implications of your family building plans please contact Jemimah Fleet on 01753 889995 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.