Queen Elizabeth Fertility unit: improving accessibility and empowering communities for over 26 Years

Gateshead Health’s fertility unit has been supporting patients in Gateshead for more than 26 years. Over the last two and a half decades, it has grown to be one of the largest providers of assisted conception in the North East and Cumbria and is rated among the highest performing IVF units by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Out of all the patients that choose to access the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital’s Fertility service annually, around two thirds of patients are eligible NHS patients, and one third are private patients.

The team takes immense pride in delivering high-quality services to the local community and is committed to learning and building upon easier access to these services.

One of the unique approaches that the Gateshead Health Fertility team has adopted to improve accessibility to its services is the engagement with minority groups in the local area.

Gateshead Health Fertility team group photographs with local Jewish leaders.
Gateshead Health Fertility team with local Jewish leaders.

Gateshead is home to the third largest population of Orthodox Jewish people in the United Kingdom and the team has been working closely with the Orthodox Jewish community in Bensham, to identify the unique challenges they face in accessing appropriate fertility treatment.

In 2021 the Gateshead Health Fertility team started a long period of engagement and learning with the local Jewish leaders and Rabbis to understand the unique barriers that come with Jewish couples trying to access fertility treatment. There was strong leadership and willingness from the Jewish Rabbis to help the Jewish community locally to access services closer to home.

Halakha is the collective body of Jewish religious laws that are derived from both the Written and Oral Torah. Some laws within Halakha conflict with standard fertility methods and tests that are available.

This undertaking has resulted in the Gateshead Health Fertility team finding alternative methods and solutions that cater to both the medical aspect of fertility treatment and the religious beliefs that may pose a challenge to standard fertility methods.

Another aspect that the team worked on with the Jewish leaders was the IVF process and what happens during the lab stages of IVF treatment, ensuring Rabbis have clarity and oversight of the process.

This valuable work has helped build a strong and open relationship with the local Orthodox Jewish community that is rooted in trust, understanding and respect.

Similarly, the Gateshead Health Fertility team has also been working to understand the specific barriers that the LGBTQ+ community faces when it comes to conception and the ability to have children. This has led to a surge in the number of lesbian couples accessing fertility services at the QE, aided by positive experiences, word-of-mouth recommendations, and discussions around adapted pathways that cater to their unique needs.

The Gateshead Health Fertility unit’s efforts towards increasing accessibility do not end there. The team is dedicated to connecting with all communities, providing support for miscarriages, nutrition and fertility learning, inclusive literature, patient information education, and virtual consultations.

Sophia Jewitt, Laboratory Manager said: “We are proud of the Fertility services that we have built here at the QE over the last 26 years and what we have achieved during this time, this is often reflected in the feedback provided to the unit by patients using the service. We are ambitious about the future and what we want to do next”.

If you’re in search of reliable and effective fertility services in the Gateshead area, the Queen Elizabeth Fertility unit could be the perfect fit for you. Situated in the Jubilee Wing of the QE hospital, a self-contained unit with an emphasis on privacy and comfort. With extensive experience of over 26 years in treating both NHS and private patients, the unit has established a reputation for providing empathetic, compassionate, and expert care to those seeking fertility treatment.