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HFEA Annual Conference 2019

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I enjoyed attending the HFEA conference on the 13th June, with lots of take aways and positive action that is being taken to improve the experience and safety of IVF for patients.

For me the patient support workshop was really interesting and great to see the work that is being done to improve emotional support for patients. It was really helpful to hear from clinics that are looking at different ways to support patients and staff, and I feel happy for all the patients that will benefit from the increased support.

Francesca Steyn from CRGH spoke about the amazing work that the RCN are doing to support staff in supporting patients, and that a final copy of their project report will be given to the RCN publications team in September, and will be made available to all nurses including in GP surgeries.

Debbie Evans from Herts and Essex has a mantra of "Look after your staff, then watch them look after your patients" which sums it up brilliantly. If your staff are exhausted, demotivated and running on empty, they will not be in the best state for supporting patients.

Laurél Hird from The Fertility Partnership said they were 'Investing in staff as a starting point'. Looking at job titles, assessing training needs and reinforcing responsibilities, which is putting staff at the centre of emotional support and getting them to lead the culture of support.

Angela Pericleous-Smith shared what BICA and Leeds Fertility are doing. She very rightly said that it is 'Everyone's responsibility to provide emotional support' and talked about the importance of ensuring all the team understand the value of counselling and how it helps patients.

A key take away for me was that medical treatment isn't the same for everyone, so why would emotional support be. I completely believe that support shouldn't be one size fits all, and that is why it is important to understand your patients.

There were also really interesting and informative sessions on leadership, quality management and the hot topic of add ons.

The main learnings were that good PR leadership leads to better quality care for patients. By leading by example and empowering everyone to take ownership for quality, you will create a culture of quality that is followed by everyone.

Also, that more research in to add ons is needed and that there should be a group commitment to improving information and safety for patients. The HFEA would like to create a stakeholder group to make progress on this (similar to how they worked to make changes to the multiple birth rates) .

A very informative day, and as always great to meet the many people working tirelessly to help people have babies and improve the process of trying.

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