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Drop-in clinics offer fertility support and advice

Nicola and Emma next to a banner 

People can access support and advice about fertility as part of a pilot project in collaboration with two Swansea Bay clusters.

Fertility Network UK, a national charity supporting anyone affected by fertility issues, is working with the Cwmtawe and Upper Valleys Local Cluster Collaboratives (LCCs) to help patients.

Staff from the charity will be based at Strawberry Place Surgery, within the Cwmtawe LCC, as well as within the Upper Valleys LCC, once a month to provide information, advice and support to those who need it.

The aim is to try and alleviate some of the worries people may have surrounding their fertility.

Pictured: Strawberry Place Surgery practice manager, Nicola Baxter and Fertility Network UK regional coordinator for Wales, Emma Rees.

Patients registered with GP practices within the Cwmtawe or Upper Valleys LCCs can request an appointment via email.

Emma Rees, Fertility Network UK regional coordinator for Wales, said: “We will be working with the clusters and supporting patients in primary care with any fertility issues they may have.

“We can provide accurate advice and signpost people to information about the patient pathway for IVF, as well as what emotional and wellbeing support is available.

“We know that if patients are seen and supported early, it can hopefully help to alleviate some of their worries and stress.

“Just knowing you’re not alone in what you’re going through can be enough to carry you through a difficult time sometimes.”

The monthly clinics aim to make patients more aware of the referral process and eligibility criteria for fertility treatment, while also signposting them to appropriate support available to them.

“We want to make sure that patients are well informed as early as possible on their fertility journey,” Emma added.

“We can tell patients about peer groups, refer them to nutrition and weight loss programmes, wellbeing support and various support programmes, webinars and general advice.

“It’s about raising awareness and ensuring that patients have the information they need to make informed decisions about their fertility.”

The charity will also be working with the Wales Fertility Institute to educate GPs within the clusters to enhance their knowledge of the referral process and fertility support available to patients.

By hosting awareness sessions for the GPs, it is hoped that they will be able to have similar conversations with their patients directly.

“We will provide GPs and staff with education and awareness sessions with the view to enhance their knowledge of the referral pathway,” Emma added.

“We also want to make them aware of what infertility support is available to patients.

“It’s about sharing that knowledge with staff so they can then share it with patients.”

Emma said overall the pilot project aimed to make those experiencing infertility issues less isolated.

“Infertility can be incredibly isolating for some people,” she said.

“It doesn’t just impact your life for the first few months, it can consume your life from the time you find out that you need support and help which can be difficult to manage.

“What we hope we will achieve by being there to offer early support is to provide people with a real understanding, not only of the eligibility criteria and referral process, but also of the success rates too.”

Nicola Baxter, Strawberry Place Surgery practice manager and Cwmtawe LCC commissioning development manager, said: “We hope the introduction of this new service with Fertility Network UK will provide patients with information, advice and guidance on their fertility treatment pathway.

“It will also provide emotional support for patients on what we know is a very challenging journey.”

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