Investigation after 'tragic loss of embryos' at fertility clinic

By John Mercury March 9, 2024

A London fertility clinic has had its licence suspended due to “significant concerns” after a “tragic loss of embryos”.

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it has paused the Homerton Fertility Centre’s licence as there would be a “potential risk to patients, gametes and embryos” if it did not act.

Staff at the centre are “currently investigating issues relating to the storage of embryos,” the local NHS Foundation Trust said.

Its statement continued: “There have been three separate incidents within the unit which have highlighted errors in a small number of freezing processes.

“This has resulted in the tragic loss of a small number of embryos either not surviving or being undetectable altogether.”

Patients affected by the loss of embryos have been informed.

External clinical experts are investigating those incidents and are yet to find any “direct cause”, it added.

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The fertility centre is at Homerton University Hospital in east London. Pic: Google Street View
Image:
The fertility centre is at Homerton University Hospital in east London. Pic: Google Street View

Prior to the licence suspension, the clinic – which is part of the Homerton University Hospital – made a number of changes, including ordering all staff to work in pairs so they can double-check all clinical activities.

Security at the centre has been increased and the Trust also said it has “re-checked the competencies” of staff.

Current patients who wish to continue their treatment at the centre can do so, the Trust’s chief executive said.

Louise Ashley added: “Our very dedicated staff are keen to support patients in whatever way they can.

“Please accept my sincere apology for the distress this may have caused.”

The Trust has set up a helpline to answer any concerns from patients.

Metropolitan Police officers attended the clinic on Friday after concerns were raised.

A force spokesperson told Sky News there is no police investigation at this time.

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