Fertility Clinic Strikes Gold

Issue Date: 22 February 2006

Winning a CIPR gold award
Winning a CIPR gold award

Midland Fertility Services (MFS) has received a gold award in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Awards for the Midlands, recognising the success of the clinic’s new approach to communicating with patients and health professionals.

Jill Anthony-Ackery, a former patient of the clinic, joined MFS in August 2004 in the newly-created role of communications manager, reporting directly to the Board of Directors. With 16 years in-house and consultancy PR experience she introduced a new strategy to promote the fertility clinic’s services to potential new patients and to health professionals who determine or influence a patient’s choice of clinic.

As a result of the new strategy and MFS’s continuing good treatment results, the annual number of new patient enquiries increased by 272% on the previous year and continues to grow. MFS has recently recruited new staff in all departments and will be expanding its premises in Aldridge later this year.

Patients now benefit from the re-launched www.midlandfertility.com, which includes the clinic’s most current available success rates, clear explanations of treatments and up to date staff profiles. An on-line quarterly e-newsletter and a virtual patient support group, the MFS Forum, ensure patients receive new information about the clinic and have access to an interactive community of people who are experiencing similar treatment.

High profile news-driven, editorial coverage in the Midlands’ and national media, profiling real-life patient stories, included:

* the ‘Funded Fertility Treatment for All’ campaign with The Birmingham Post, which campaigned for funded fertility treatment to be available throughout the UK as per the government’s guidelines. The number of patient enquiries for the month following the launch of the campaign was six times greater than the same month the previous year.
* MFS’s 18 th birthday party in September 2004 which was read by more than 3.5 million people throughout the UK and which would have cost more than £100,000 to place as advertisements
* a double-page feature entitled ‘The Baby-Makers’ in the UK’s highest circulation national tabloid, which brought enquiries from potential new patients from throughout the Midlands and the UK

The judging panel, comprised of experienced PR practitioners from throughout the UK, commented that MFS received the gold award for submitting a “very strong entry, which was extremely well documented. A strong case was made, achieving impressive results.”

“MFS now approaches its marketing and communications like the rest of the clinic’s scientific, clinical or quality management procedures,” said Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of MFS. “We employed an expert to carry it out, who knows the different means to achieve the best results and who then analyses and evaluates the activity to improve on future outcomes.

“People who need fertility treatment can often be bewildered by the choices available to them or overawed by the science of the procedures, so MFS is committed to ensuring new and current patients receive clear and accurate information, from when they first start to research fertility treatment, possibly via the internet, to every meeting with their fertility specialists during and after treatment.

“The CIPR gold award is an endorsement that the communications strategy is not only appreciated by patients, but also respected by PR experts.”

ends

Midland Fertility Services was established in 1987 and is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. In 2000 MFS became the first UK IVF clinic to use inhibin B to assess ovarian reserve and in 2002 the UK’s first ‘frozen egg’ baby was born following treatment at MFS, using the baby’s mother’s own egg and giving hope to young cancer patients worried about fertility preservation. In 2004, MFS celebrated the birth of the 3,000th baby following treatment at the clinic and in June 2005, registered its 13,000th patient. In September 2005, the UK’s first twins were born from ‘frozen egg’ fertility treatment at MFS. Based in Aldridge and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, MFS treats both private and NHS-funded patients from throughout the UK and abroad.