Northern Ireland

Belfast fertility clinic challeges admissions refusal

A private fertility clinic in Belfast is challenging health care regulators who have served notice on it not to accept any new admissions or referrals of patients.

Origin Fertility Care, on the Belmont Road, closed voluntarily for two weeks in June to put proper systems in place.

The BBC understands the latest move came after the clinic failed to comply with regulations which could affect the safety of patients.

The clinic has 28 days to appeal.

Origin Fertility Care offers a private service to those trying to have a baby.

However, following a number of inspections over the past year, the company has been issued with several warnings.

These include why they were not reporting "adverse incidents".

The temporary closure of Origin Fertility Care in June followed an inspection by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

The regulatory body listed a number of faults including a failure to alert authorities when women became ill after treatment.

It was also not updating patients' records, including their test results.

The clinic closed temporarily to enable it to re-organise.

Image caption Jenny Hall is managing director of Origin Fertility Care in Belfast

After the regulators carried out a further inspection, they said they were not satisfied by a number of areas.

These included the number of suitably qualified and skilled staff, the level of staff training and aspects of management.

Origin has been advised not to accept any new patients after the 28 days, but they have told the BBC they are seeking legal recourse to "protect their good name and reputation".

Origin Managing Director Jenny Hall said they were satisfied that systems now in place ensure a "high standard of service to patients".

It said they had engaged with the RQIA to review and improve some of its internal protocols and were "very concerned and disappointed to note that the RQIA had published a report prior to concluding our discussions".

"We believe this is not only premature but that aspects of the notice are fundamentally wrong," she said.

"Moreover, publication has occurred before we had ever viewed their 'detailed report' and without being given an opportunity to respond to the points raised.

"We believe they have therefore acted prematurely potentially creating a circumstance of uncertainty particularly for vulnerable patients currently undergoing treatment."

The clinic has stressed that it remains open and has been busy throughout Thursday with patients.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the RQIA said if compliance was achieved during the 28 days the notice may be withdrawn.

The company employs 24 staff and has approximately 5,000 clients.

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