Fertility clinics in the UK could open soon

Proud new parents looking at belly of pregnant mother standing beside a window at home

Fertility clinics across the UK can apply to reopen from 11 May, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has confirmed, but only if the clinics ensure the safety and protection of staff and patients.

Couples who had to put their UK fertility treatment on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak will be able to resume, following the fertility regulator’s decision to lift its suspension of all fertility services.

The HFEA has set out new conditions for clinics, both private and NHS. All clinics will be required to set out a strategy to show they are meeting conditions to provide safe and effective treatment before they are given the green light to restart treatment.

Social distancing will be a requirement in waiting rooms and telephone appointments should be used where suitable. Appropriate personal protective equipment will also be provided where necessary. Clinics will be audited.

Services were temporarily suspended on 23 March 2020 in response to the coronavirus lockdown, alongside other elective treatments.

The HFEA is also working with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on a new project to develop guidance for IVF clinics in the UK, to make sure they treat their patients fairly. The CMA has expressed concerns about the potential mis-selling of services such as IVF add-on treatments, and the mis-representation of clinics’ success rates.

The UK has no restrictions on entry to the country so, in theory, overseas medical tourists could use UK clinics. But the UK government is currently considering making all entrants to the UK enter compulsory quarantine.