Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for professionals
A revised General Direction has been issued and licensed clinics can now apply to reopen.
Updated - 21 May 2020
We are regularly monitoring the situation, the government guidance, and the advice from the fertility sector medical and scientific experts. We will update this page as necessary.
Clinics reopening safely: General Direction GD0014 (version 2)
On 11 May 2020 we issued General Direction GD0014 (version 2), which is designed to accommodate the very different positions that clinics find themselves in dealing with the impact of COVID-19. General Direction GD0014 (version 2) requires that before resuming licensed treatment clinics must have a written COVID-19 Treatment Commencement Strategy, and that this has been assessed as robust by our inspectors.
Clinics are also required to complete the HFEA COVID-19 Treatment Commencement self-assessment tool and submit this to their inspector before commencing treatment. Clinics cannot resume treatment until they have received our approval.
We aim to complete our approval process within five working days of receiving the completed clinic self-assessment. When each clinic receives approval to reopen, we will publish this information in the list on our website to make patients aware.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted on licensed centres in different ways. Whatever position a clinic is in, we understand that the safety of patients and staff will be their priority. GD0014 (version 2) is designed to provide clinics with a framework for enabling as many patients as possible to have safe treatment through these difficult times. It does not require clinics to resume treatment by a certain date.
We have also put together a new set of FAQs, including information about coronavirus testing, signing consents, and storage regulations, which clinic staff may find helpful.
Storage limit for frozen eggs, sperm and embryos extended during coronavirus outbreak
In recognition of the potential impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may have on those wishing to start a family, the Government has confirmed that the current 10-year storage limit for embryos and gametes will be extended by two years.
Our Chair, Sally Cheshire, said:
“We welcome today’s announcement from the DHSC. We have been working together to ensure those patients who have stored sperm, eggs or embryos that are reaching the 10-year storage limit are not penalised by the current suspension of fertility treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know this is a difficult and distressing time for all patients, so this decision brings good news for those who are reaching the 10-year storage limit. It provides them with some much-needed reassurance and most importantly gives more time to try for their much longed for family.”
We will be issuing new guidance to fertility clinics in the UK to support them in implementing the new storage limit extension.
Covid-19 Global guidance
There is difference of opinion among professional bodies globally and clinics should be aware of this.
Publication date: 28 May 2020
Review date: 28 May 2022