COVID-19: Devon fertility service guide

Please follow the link below to a validated spread sheet that details the current position of all clinical services at the RD&E. This information is being provided by the RD&E and will be updated weekly.

RD&E Clinical Services Restoration update

June 2020


Key update:
7/10/20 - Important Update on Changes to Diagnostic Semen Analysis Service at Fertility Exeter

This service will now operate on an appointment only system.

The drop in service for patients in no longer available and patients will be turned away if they attend without an appointment.

Important Update on Changes to Diagnostic Semen Analysis Service at Fertility Exeter. for more information, please click here.

For patient information regarding changes to submission of samples for Diagnostic Semen Analysis , please click here.

We are pleased to announce the resumption of a diagnostic semen analysis service at Fertility Exeter from Monday 8 June 2020.

Previously, this service has operated as a drop-in service on Monday and Friday mornings (and Thursday mornings for Torbay patients only).

This service will now operate on an appointment only system for the foreseeable future to ensure that we are working in accordance with the guidelines issued by our professional bodies (Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists and British Fertility Society) for the safe re-introduction of routine fertility treatments and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following information explains how you can now access the service.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience and cooperation with these changes. Any additional changes to this service and/or information about the resumption of additional services will be published on our website.

Existing new and follow-up routine appointments have been cancelled and changed to telephone / video consultation where appropriate.

Urgent referrals

Fertility Exeter will continue to consider urgent fertility preservation as top priority.

Diagnostic Semen Analysis Service

How do patients make an appointment?

Patients in possession of a labelled sample pot and diagnostic semen analysis request form (completed by their GP or other requesting clinician) must call the Embryology office at Fertility Exeter on 01392 405115 between 8:30am and 3:30pm Monday to Friday to book an appointment for their semen analysis. There will be 4 appointments available per day (Mon-Fri).

Can patients still produce a sample on-site if they live too far away from the clinic?

Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate the production of on-site sample during this phase of our reopening. All samples will need to be produced off-site to minimise risk and footfall in the clinic. Samples should be submitted within 1.5 hours of production (please see Page 1 of our information leaflet 'Submitting Your Semen for Analysis' for more information on producing your sample).

How do patients submit their sample for analysis?

On the day before your appointment (Friday, if your appointment is a Monday), patients will be telephoned and asked some questions regarding COVID-19 and their health. This is to check that patients are still eligible to be able to attend with their sample as planned. If we think that patients may be at risk of having COVID-19, they will be asked to reschedule their appointment and will be unable to attend the clinic for a period of 2 weeks.

Patients must not attend the clinic without completing this telephone questionnaire.

On arrival at the clinic door for their allocated time, patients will be given access to the clinic and will be asked to place their sample and accompanying paperwork into a box. The sample will then be taken to the laboratory and analysed. The result will be sent to the requesting clinician within two weeks and they will be able to give patients this information in due course.

What if a patient needs to change or cancel their appointment?

Patients should telephone the Embryology office on 01392 405115 as soon as possible if they can no longer attend their appointment. This may allow us to re-allocate this time slot to someone else.

If a patient has already produced a sample but doesn't have an appointment, should they still drop it in?

Unfortunately, we will be unable to accept any additional samples at this time. If a patient attends the clinic without an appointment their sample will not be analysed and information on how to book an allocated day/time for their sample to be analysed will be given.

Routine referrals

All new routine referrals will be clinically triaged and will either be added to a waiting list or, if appropriate, A&G will be given.

Please ensure that a practice-based system is in place to check daily for returning referrals with A&G.

All couples awaiting treatment will be contacted by letter in the first instance informing them that we are now able to offer them the opportunity to proceed.

A Covid-19 contract would be included for them to read and consider.

They will then be invited to discuss this by phone/video conference with one of the clinical team to answer any questions they may have and to confirm and document their intentions regarding proceeding on a Covid-19 consultation checklist.

Prior to making a routine referral, please ensure that any appropriate Policy or CRG has been reviewed and that all the suggested investigations and management options have been considered.

Fertility clinical referral guideline

For patient information regarding changes to submission of samples for Diagnostic Semen Analysis , please click here.

Existing new and follow-up routine appointments have been cancelled and changed to telephone / video consultation where appropriate.

Covid-19 High risk patient advice

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists identified older women, those who are overweight or obese, pregnant women with pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes and women from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background at higher risk of complications of coronavirus, being admitted to hospital or to have severe illness. These patients will have individualised discussion about the risks and sign the Agreement on Provision of Assisted Conception Treatment During COVID-19 if they wish to proceed with treatment. If necessary, cases will be discussed by the multidisciplinary team at a case review meeting.

Additionally, patients who are most at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 have been advised by the government to 'shield' themselves until further review. This means that they should stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact with anyone from outside of their household. Therefore, their treatment will be deferred until epidemiological evidence shows a sustained reduction in the community spread of the infection.

The "shielding" list has been identified by the NHS England and is detailed in the clinic's SOP for Treatment during Covid-19.

Pathway Group

This guideline has been signed off on behalf of the NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group

Publication date: March 2020

Date updated: October 2020

Last updated: 04-06-2021


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