A survey of UK fertility counsellors' experiences of the impact on their service, including its availability, during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 received 64 responses . Fifty three respondents had continued to provide a service . Forty now worked from a wholly/substantially different location to normal but many clinics provided no practical support for this (n = 17), or remote access to relevant clinic (n = 17) or client information (n = 12) and twenty five respondents reported reduced multi-disciplinary involvement . Few received regular information updates . Some whose service was stopped (n = 11) abruptly lost income and/or were unsure whether they could or would resume working . Increased remote counselling proved crucial for accessibility and could be effective . Concerns included fatigue, technical and practical challenges, confidentiality, lowered therapeutic effectiveness . Respondents supported patients having choice over how to receive counselling in the future but a third (n = 21) had not been included in such planning . These findings suggest the need for increased involvement and support of fertility counsellors in the event of a future waves, other pandemic or healthcare crisis . More needs to be understood about why clinic responses varied; how to improve the safety and efficacy of remote counselling; and how to accommodate future needs for face-to-face contact.
Index: COVID-19, Counselling, multi-disciplinary work, on-line counselling, phone counselling