AN increased demand in IVF treatment has prompted one of the most successful fertility clinics in the region to move to bigger premises.
The Centre for Assisted Reproduction, based at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, has been based within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s maternity department since 1997.
Now it has moved to larger accommodation in the hospital’s Jubilee Wing, with the first patients being treated at the centre on Monday.
Sister Katie Best, a member of the IVF team, said: "IVF can be an emotional experience for people exploring or undergoing treatment so we felt it was more appropriate to be located outside of the maternity unit.
"Our new home is in the hospital’s newer Jubilee Wing and gives us purpose-built accommodation based around our needs and those of our patients.
"Often it can be difficult for couples going through IVF and it was, at times, upsetting for them to be around newborn babies at the old unit. It’s great that this issue is no longer a factor and we are looking forward to welcoming our first patients."
In the 11 years the fertility clinic has been open demand for the service has increased dramatically.
The last centre was only able to accommodate 100 IVF cycles – the equivalent of an average of 30 couples – whereas the new premises can process up to 500 cycles, which equates to 350 couples.
Ian Aird, consultant obstetrician gynaecologist and medical director at the IVF unit, said: "It is a very exciting development as there is a lot of movement in IVF treatment as it is being made much more accessible.
"We need to make sure our equipment keeps up with advanced facilities and the new centre certainly does that as we are now in state-of-the-art premises for the 21st Century.
"Staff are working in a better environment that is less stressful for patients. There is also better confidentiality and improved technology." The new premises cost £600,00 to equip and have an IVF Witness machine – one of only seven in the country – which checks the labelling of the embryos and sperm so there are no mix-ups.
As well as a new look, the team has also got a new name. It is now called Gateshead Fertility Unit.
Clinical embryologist, Catherine Wass, 30, said: "The new centre is a huge bonus to patients. There are now nice new consulting rooms and there is also much more space."