COVID-19 Update 12th May
We are delighted to announce that the HFEA has advised us we can reopen for all fertility treatments with immediate effect.
We are also open for other services including fertility consultations, investigations, early pregnancy monitoring and female health screening. All consultations and fertility MOTS will where possible continue to be conducted remotely through Zoom and using our home testing sperm and hormone profile kits.
The safety of our patients and of our staff remains our highest priority and in line with the HFEA requirements, we have developed a detailed COVID-19 Treatment Commencement Policy. This has assessed any potential risks to patients and/or staff that could be present at every step of the patient journey through the clinic. In order to mitigate these risks, a number of measures have been introduced. We have provided information on these in our updated COVID-19 Patient Information which can be found in our Patient Portal.
If you have had your treatment suspended as a result of COVID-19 and the HFEA Directive on 23rd March which advised all clinics to stop treatments, please rest assured you are on our ‘Waiting to restart treatment’ database. You are also on our database if you have had a consultation and decided to start a new cycle of treatment, whatever that treatment might be. We are resuming all fertility treatments. We have developed a transparent Triage system to ensure everyone who is waiting to start fertility treatment will be treated fairly. Information on this triage system is explained in our COVID-19 Patient Information.
All patients on our ‘Waiting to start treatment’ database will have received a phone call from a member of our team last week to give them an indication of when their treatment is likely to start. If you are on that list and were advised that if you want to start your treatment, your likely start date will be in the next 4 weeks, expect a call from our nursing team this week to set up your dates and complete the preparation for starting treatment. This will include providing you with all the advice you need on dates and medication to take.
If you were advised that your treatment is likely to start beyond 4 weeks’ time, expect a call early next week from one of our nursing staff to start scheduling your dates and any nurse consultations or tests you might still need to have.
A few important changes to bring to your attention. All patients attending the Clinic will be asked to complete our COVID-19 self-assessment questionnaire which is on our patient portal. You will be advised when to complete this and send it in. We will also ask that you to wear a face mask when you attend for your appointments and that you keep that face mask just for your Agora appointments. Some of our patients are making their own face masks which we encourage as where possible we don’t want to use up precious NHS PPE resources. We will provide guidance on how to make your own face mask on our patient portal for those who wish to do so.
We are really looking forward to being able to get everyone back onto their treatment programs and welcome new patients. We thank you all for your patience, understanding and kind words of support throughout this difficult time.
Planning to start fertility treatment?
Our advice if you have treatment planned, but not already started.
Important advice if you are already pregnant.
Here to support you in these worrying times
The Agora Clinic is open every day and actively working to reach out to support fertility patients and those in the early stages of pregnancy in every possible way.
We have a team of key workers comprising myself and experienced senior staff from the medical, nursing, laboratory, ultrasound and administrative teams who remain on duty at all times as designated ‘key workers’.
Our other staff, including those trained in healthcare, have stepped forward to support the massive effort required to not only treat patients affected by COVID-19 but other essential services including elderly care, care in the community and delivery of medicines.
We are running an emergency early pregnancy service to reduce the footfall in our already overburdened local NHS hospitals as well as medical and nurse consultations through Zoom and virtual fertility MOTs.
A personal message from Dr. Carole Gilling-Smith,
CEO, Founder & Medical Director of the Agora clinic, outlining the steps to be able to restart fertility treatments.
We are known for our excellent patient support and know that right now this is more important than ever. We have adapted many of our patient support options to the ‘virtual’ social distancing measures imposed upon us.
We are offering virtual Patient Support sessions, counselling through Skype as well as weekly Q & A with myself through our closed Facebook Group, Agora Friends.
- If you are already a patient, we continue to respond to your questions through our various channels, including the Salve App and Agora Friends (please message us if you want to find out how to join our closed Facebook group Agora Friends).
- Our Counsellors Malcolm and Heather are available for counselling support through telephone or skype.
- We are offering regular ‘Virtual Patient Support’ sessions (please email mmgu@agoraclinic to book in)
Important Advice to Patients
Please inform the Agora if you have visited the clinic in the last 21 days and have been tested as positive for Coronavirus.
Please note: we will now be offering all our medical and nursing consultations through Agora Zoom or by telephone to minimise the footfall through the clinic and safeguard all our patients where we can. If you prefer to come to the clinic we will of course accommodate your request.
Who is most at risk?
Similarly, to other flu-like respiratory illnesses, infection with COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people over 70, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus and have been advised to self-isolate.
Since travel to and from other countries has now been brought to a halt, there is no longer any specific guidance for returning travellers from anywhere in the world affected by COVID-19 provided they have self-isolated for 7 days. Social distancing is being advised for everyone.
What is the Agora doing to minimise the risk of Coronavirus?
We have daily Senior Leadership Team briefings to respond to any changes in advice from the Government or Department of Health.
We take great pride in maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene at all times. In response to the coronavirus, we have taken additional measures developed in consultation with our Consultant Microbiologist Dr Bruce Stewart and Global and National Public Health Authorities (including the WHO and Department of Health):
- We have increased the frequency of cleaning in specific areas of the clinic (including door handles, reception area, treatment areas, toilets etc.) using hospital-grade disinfectant wipes.
- We are now asking all patients to wash their hands in our washroom facilities on arrival. Please use hot water and soap as advised by the Department of Health. We have been unable to obtain hand sanitiser due to a national shortage but hope the situation may change.
- We have introduced a no handshaking and two metre rule policy.
- We have adjusted our seating arrangements so where possible you will not be sitting closer than two metres to another patient or member of staff. Obviously, we need to relax this rule a little when you are having a treatment such as a blood test or procedure.
- We have removed all magazines and newspapers. We are encouraging our patients to bring their own phones, ipads or laptops to use while waiting.
- We have had to unfortunately suspend access to our drinks machines (water and hot drinks). If you need some water please ask one of our staff.
- We have removed all toys and books from our child play area.
- We ask you to use the tissues provided on each table if you need to and dispose of them in the bins provided.
We also have a detailed contingency plan set up to act swiftly should we be alerted to a case of coronavirus in another patient or member of staff.