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How patients feel about their experience in their fertility clinic

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I have been running my own survey in my support community on emotional support in clinics.

I wanted to hear directly from the patients I support (over 1000 across my support communities) about how they felt going through treatment, the emotional care and support they received, things that their clinic did well or could improve on, and what they would love to tell their fertility doctor if they could be completely honest with them.

I offer bespoke coaching and training to staff in clinics, and I create long term relationships with clinics to develop and implement support strategies, so I wanted to make sure that I am training and delivering on things that really matter to patients, the things they are telling me on a daily basis.

I am in a very privileged position to be told peoples deepest fears and emotions, their anxieties and worries around treatment and their future life, and I also get to celebrate in their amazing highs of positive results and the birth of their children. I take that responsibility very seriously and want to make sure I am acting as their voice in fertility clinics, helping them get the support they desperately want and need.

The initial feedback is already showing some interesting results:

- Respondents rated the support they have received from clinics as an average of 5.2 out of 10. 10% rated the support at 0, and another 10% rated it 2.

- 63% of respondents felt that their clinic doesn’t have a culture of support that is followed by all members of staff.

- 73% would like to see better links to support services, and 66% would like their clinic to have a support group they can access.

- A lot of the feedback has been about wanting to be treated as a person rather than a number.

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Quotes from patients:

“Please don't treat me like one of the herd. Realise that this is horrifically painful. Realise that this is impacting on every single part of our lives - jobs, relationships, family and friends. They're the ones who hold the keys the next available door, so don't make each stage about barriers.”

“We know that you see this day in and day out but for us this is totally alien and all very new to us. Please take this into account when speaking to patients and don't assume prior knowledge or make comparisons.”

"Listen more, make more time for your patients. We are all different and feel different things at different times. It may be easy for you reading off what our follicle sizes and womb lining is but each one of those words means so much. I Know your busy and over stretched but just treat us like a friend and not a number. I know I do with my patients even it’s just holding there hand when I know they are scared."

This research shows how tough infertility and treatment can be. When going through treatment patients spend a lot of time at their clinic, and control of their fertility is taken out of their hands and in to those of their consultant.

Unfortunately, it can be a long road to achieving their dream of having a baby, and it’s important that the time they spend with you is positive and supportive, and they feel comfortable with the treatment they are having.

Patients feel overwhelmed and out of control, they want to know that they have put their future happiness in the right hands.

Clinics need to recognise that if they are supporting patients in every communication they have with them, those patients will feel more valued, feel more trusting of the clinic, cope better through treatment and return to them for further treatment. They need to develop a ‘Culture of Support’.

I will continue to share the results as the number of recipients grows.

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