Bulletin (incl COVID-19 guidance)

Latest COVID-19 guidance

18 May 2021

Our next patient information and support group meetings will be held on:

  • Tue 1 Jun
  • Tue 13 Jul
  • Tue 10 Aug
  • Tue 13 Sep

All sessions are 4–5pm.

9 Apr 2021

1 Mar 2021

Our next patient information and support group meeting will be held on Wed 24 Mar at 12 noon. If you would like to attend please use the Zoom link below.

17 Feb 2021

Our patient information and support group meetings are being held every Friday at 12 noon. If you would like to attend please see the details below.

10 Feb 2021

Next patient information and support group meeting:

  • Friday 12 February at 12 noon
  • Join Zoom Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 724 9372 7173
  • Passcode: 7XzhE5

26 Jan 2021

Next patient information and support group meeting:

  • Friday 5 February at 12 noon
  • Join Zoom Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 724 9372 7173
  • Passcode: 7XzhE5

15 Jan 2021

Coronavirus: Assisted Conception Unit update

As you are aware there has been a significant surge of new COVID infections in London and, as a result, the government imposed more restrictions for the public.

Our hospital has taken the difficult decision to reduce the number of elective treatments, to make resources available for fighting the pandemic. This is reviewed on a weekly basis and we hope that our full service will resume soon, when it is deemed safe for all concerned.

As a result, some fertility treatments had to be rescheduled. The core staff of the Assisted Conception Unit are still in post and we have the list of patients who are waiting to start treatment and will contact you as soon as possible. We are busy working on each case to plan the treatment and our IVF coordinators will contact you if necessary to organise tests or pre-treatment. Our multidisciplinary team meetings are ongoing and all the complex cases are discussed normally. We are reviewing the latest data and publications and reviewing our protocols as per our normal policy. All clinic consultations continue via telephone or electronic platforms and we have worked hard to develop full functionality and confidentiality on line.

In the meantime, there will be weekly website updates and patient information and support events. The links will be advertised on our website. Our e-mail and telephone lines are open and our senior nurses are available to answer your queries. Dr Nikolaou, the clinical lead, is also in the Unit, along with other doctors, even though our junior fellows have been asked to be available for other duties if needed. Our embryology team is in place and available to answer any embryological queries you may have.

For all enquiries you can e mail  or call 0203 315 8585.

In this unprecedented time of pressure and uncertainty, we are aware how difficult it must be for those who were expecting to commence treatment or investigation. The stress and anxiety experienced routinely during fertility treatment can be overwhelming. If you need to talk to our counsellors, please call our unit using the number above and book an appointment. Our counselling service continues normally.

We are getting constant updates from the Trust board, the Department of health and our professional bodies such as the HFEA and BFS and we will discuss them with you during our weekly meetings via the zoom platform.

When you are in the unit

We have a range of safety measures at our hospitals and community sites to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and to keep you safe, including measures put in place to maintain social distancing and to reduce the number of patients in the clinic through the use of telephone or video consultations and by increasing the time between appointments.

We have introduced social distancing measures at reception areas and increased the frequency of cleaning in the clinic. When you are in the clinic, you will be asked to wear a face covering. Partners are being asked not to attend the clinic unless required during treatment and we are not able to accommodate children in the department at this time either.

Before attending the clinic, we will take you through a short health questionnaire. We will also send you a detailed information leaflet entitled 'changes to your fertility treatment in ACU and COVID-19', and a form that you will need to sign before we can start your treatment. If you have had any COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days, or have been in contact with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, please do not attend your appointment and contact us to rearrange.

What next

We want to look after you and work together to achieve your desired outcome of having a baby. Your treatment and wellbeing is of utmost importance to us. Hopefully within the next 2 weeks or so the rate of infection in London will have stabilised and we will keep you updated about your treatment. Your details are on our list already and we are working to ensure that you are ready to start as soon as it is safe. Our nurses will call you without unnecessary delay.

Next patient information and support group meeting:

  • Friday 22 January 2021 at 12 noon
  • Join Zoom Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 724 9372 7173
  • Passcode: 7XzhE5

Update on the COVID vaccine and pregnancy:

5 Jan 2021

Update for patients—postponement of treatments due to COVID-19

The Assisted Conception Unit team are very sorry to inform patients that all NHS-funded and self-funded treatments have been postponed until further notice.

The Trust has made the difficult but necessary decision to redeploy the ACU staff to work on our wards to care for sharply rising numbers of COVID inpatients.

We will contact you in due course to re-plan your treatment. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these challenging times.

We appreciate this is a stressful time. Should you require further support please contact our admin team on 020 3315 8585 to book a virtual appointment with our counsellor, Joanna Miller. 

22 Oct 2020

To reserve your place on one of the events below, which will take place on the Zoom platform, please email  as spaces are limited. The Zoom link will be emailed to you ahead of the meeting.

Fertility Support Group

Coping with infertility can be a stressful experience, but you are not alone. Join our fertility support group to meet other people, share experiences and swap advice on coping with fertility treatment. You can listen, learn or share your story. Led by members of the Assisted Conception Unit team.

Dates:

  • Tue 27 Oct, 4–5pm
  • Tue 24 Nov, 4–5pm
Please note this support group is to provide emotional support rather than discuss clinical questions.

22 Jul 2020

Fertility Support Group

Thank you to those who join us on our virtual support group about fertility patient support. We hope you found it useful.

09 Jun 2020

Following recent approval from the HFEA, we are pleased to advise the resumption of fertility treatment services.

Our main priority remains the safety of patients and staff. Measures to maintain social distancing and reduce the number of patients in clinic by virtual/remote consultations and by increasing the time in between appointments are in place.

Where possible, clinics will be held including counselling sessions and patient information appointments remotely/virtually. Counselling appointments can be scheduled by telephoning 020 3315 8585 and choosing the ‘Admin’ option.

Screens have been introduced in the reception area and while you are in the hospital and clinic areas you must wear a face covering.

Partners are not permitted to attend the clinic unless previously directed by staff. 

We have a system to ensure that everyone who is waiting to start fertility treatment will be treated fairly. The team will be in contact with you as soon as we are able to provide you with any further information about your treatment. Please bear with us whilst we focus on this.

Whilst we are eager to resume treatments, safety is our priority. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.  

Further Information

27 May 2020

Thank you to those who join us on our virtual support group about ACU patient support. We hope you found it useful.

12 May 2020

Summary of our ACU patient support group Zoom session on 11 May:

Present:

  • Mr D Nikolaou (Consultant)
  • Lia Pelentrides (Senior Fertility Nurse)
  • Kay Kuntawala (Senior Fertility Nurse)

The group was informed that the Assisted Conception Unit has submitted an application to our governing body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), on 12 May detailing measures taken to ensure safety of patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. An announcement will be made in the coming days with information about when the unit can reopen to commence treatments. 

The unit will be meeting with Trust management on 13 May to highlight strategies for patients.

An information document for patients is in development, which will answer questions raised during the session:

  • Advice for patients/couples in isolation during fertility treatment
  • Appointment management to ensure social distancing and control numbers of people in unit and hospital
  • A consent/disclaimer form will be given to patients/couples regarding COVID-19
  • COVID-19 screening will be obtained at the baseline scan—if patients/couples test positive for COVID-19, treatment will be postponed and deferred until appropriate
  • Patients seeking information about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women should see the Coronavirus infection and pregnancy leaflet on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) website

20 Apr 2020

We understand that patients may be wondering what services the unit are providing at present. Here is an update to inform you how we are handling your care during the current pandemic; whilst all active treatments are currently suspended and government social distancing measures remain in place.

Clinic appointments

The fertility follow up clinic appointments (this is where you have been referred to us by your GP and have been advised to have investigations at your initial appointment you have attended) are running by telephone consultations. The ACU clinics (where patients who were seen to plan treatment on our ACU or have had treatment and require follow up post treatment with the ACU) are also running for NHS and private patients. Patients can book via ACU admin on 020 3315 8585.

Active ACU patients

Patients who have become pregnant through their treatment are having early pregnancy scans in the unit to ensure a safe and viable pregnancy. Please do not attend the ACU for any reason if you have a high temperature (over 37.8 degrees) or have a new continuous cough or streaming nose or flu-like symptoms, please call one of the nurses for advice.

Those who were unfortunately unsuccessful in their cycle can contact for a clinic appointment as written above. There is a consultant who is available who the nurses are working closely with if required to answer your queries (this is mainly Mr Nikolaou with some cross cover).

The nurses and embryologists are available to take queries through the ACU telephone lines on 020 3315 8585 option 3 for the lab/embryology and option 2 for the nurses.

Patients who were due to commence or thinking about starting treatments

We will be calling patients as much as we can to give you an update about your case. We will be working to plan the new starting dates for treatments, as soon as we have the green light from the government and HFEA.

We understand that Covid will still remain a concern once we are allowed to return to usual practice. We are working on our clinics plan to reopen to assisted reproductive treatments by developing ideas and techniques we will use to ensure that there is no risk of COVID to patients and their partners. There will be updates on the website once we have completed these plans.

We are taking the opportunity to refine our processes, introduce new computer systems, develop our staff, ensuring that we are keeping up to date with training and up to date evidence based practice

We thank you for your patience in this difficult time. We ask that you stay in touch and want you to know that we empathise and are truly thinking of you all at present. We look forward to seeing you in our clinic and are doing everything we can to make sure we can provide you the best possible care once we reopen.

7 Apr 2020

We hope everyone is well and finding ways to cope during this difficult time. Please be aware that if you wish to speak to a member of the team our lines are still open for any advice you need.

Our Counsellor is still offering counselling which can be carried out through skype, please contact the team on 0203 315 8585 and press option 1 to book these appointments. There is also a helpful article “Fertility patients' self-care: counselling and support during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

We urge all of our patients past and future to stay safe and remain in touch as the situation changes.

26 Mar 2020

Thank you for your understanding and patience at such a difficult time. We appreciate that many of you are disappointed, but we are doing our best to ensure that we contact as many patients as we can and do our best to communicate with you. We have some valuable resources that we would encourage all patients to read. We hope you stay home and stay safe.

Today’s update to include the guidance from BFS British Fertility Society and HFEA:

Lia Peletrides
Senior Fertility Nurse

18 Mar 2020

We have currently halted fertility treatment until further notice. With effect from 18 March 2020 the Assisted Conception Unit has made the very difficult decision to put fertility treatments on hold due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). This decision has been taken in line with the national guidance and supports the wider organisational efforts to respond to current challenges.

New cycles of treatment will be put on hold, and we will endeavour to continue treatment for those patients who have already started their stimulation.

We will be in contact with all of our patients who are currently in treatment and those about to start treatment, to provide guidance and reassurance regarding next steps. We understand you will have many questions due to this decision but please bear with us while we put these together.

We apologise for any anxiety and stress this decision may cause. We have not made this decision lightly, but our priority must be your safety and support.

We urge all of our patients past and future to stay safe and remain in touch as the situation changes.

The ACU team want to thank you all for your continued support, patience and understanding at this very difficult time. Please refer to our website for regular updates. Or contact our team directly on 020 3315 8585.