Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, fertility treatment is continuing to become safer and quality of care is improving across UK clinics, the fertility watchdog has confirmed in a new report
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority(HFEA) has released its latest report, entitled the State of the Sector, which showed that 77 inspections were carried out in 2020/21.
While clinics were temporally closed between April and May 2020 due to unprecedented strain on the healthcare system during the first wave of the pandemic, most clinics were able to recommence treatments quickly, with 94 percent of private clinics and 76 percent of NHS clinics reopening by June 2020.
The new HFEA chairwoman, Julia Chain, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic had a serious impact on the availability of fertility treatment for a short time last year, which meant that we had to adapt our regulatory oversight to ensure the safety of patients and their sperm, eggs, and embryos could be maintained.
“While inspections of clinics were suspended during the first national lockdown, we used this time to design new ways of working and modify our approach to inspections to allow continued close oversight of the fertility sector as the pandemic continued.
“Although the numbers of onsite inspections were reduced, we are pleased to see that the level of compliance is broadly similar to the previous year and it’s encouraging to see a continued trend of fewer serious incidents, including an ongoing decline in serious cases of OHSS.
“Over the years we’ve worked hard with the sector to reduce the number of OHSS cases, which is the single biggest complication from fertility treatment, and clinics were encouraged to have an even more cautious approach to OHSS to reduce any additional burden on the NHS during the pandemic.”
The report highlighted 548 incidents (including near misses) were reported to the HFEA, compared with 569 in 2019/20. Cases of severe cases OHSS continues to decrease with 43 cases reported in 2020/21, a reduction of 35 percent on the previous year.
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