Fertility Services to Continue Throughout Level 5

As appeared in the Irish Examiner on 10 November, by Paul Hosford


Fertility services will run for the entirety of Level 5 restrictions, with an overhaul of the system planned in the coming years.

Services shut down in March at the beginning of the pandemic and many did not reopen until June, causing severe interruption to the family plans of thousands.

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said an overhaul of the system was confirmed to him by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in a Parliamentary Question.
He said he had received calls from constituents who were worried that their family plans would be impacted.

“My office has received correspondence from so many prospective parents worried that this latest round of Covid restrictions will rob them of their last chance to have children.

“This is because fertility services were largely suspended during the first round of Covid-19 restrictions in March, to the detriment of so many people throughout the country.”

The system will be rolled out in a phased manner over the coming years.

“A three-stage system will be introduced, beginning with primary care in GPs, moving into Regional Fertility Hubs and extending to IVF and other treatments if necessary.”

Mary McAuliffe, the Head of Clinical Services at the Waterstone clinic in Cork said that the protection of the services is vital.

It’s huge. It takes people a lot to think that they’re going to come to a fertility service and it is very time-sensitive. Our patients are really sensitive that it’s time-sensitive, so the closure put a lot of worry on people. It’s fantastic that we’re proceeding with the confirmation that we can be open. People deserve that care and attention.”

Deirdre Gorman, the Head of Nursing with Sims IVF said that while the initial closures were made out of an abundance of caution, they were “traumatising” for prospective parents.

“Every month counts when it comes to your fertility so even a few weeks ago when there was a threat of a lockdown, our phones were hopping with people worried we would close.”

Both clinics say they used the closure to implement rigorous safety regimes for patients.

One in six couples in Ireland struggles to conceive within one year and up to 6,000 people undergo fertility treatment every year.