A regulator has extended the closure of a fertility clinic after the “tragic loss” of some embryos.

Homerton Fertility Centre in Hackney first had its licence suspended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on March 8 this year.

It came after it was found there had been three incidents at the unit which resulted in a number of embryos either not surviving or being undetectable altogether.

Homerton Healthcare NHS Trust has said this was the result of “problems in some freezing processes”.

Each of the incidents took place last year and were reported to the HFEA.

According to the regulator, in May, the correct procedure had not been followed whilst placing frozen embryos into storage.

Then, in October, some embryos frozen and cryo-stored at the centre displayed a lower rate of embryo thawing survival rate.

Two months later, it was reported that some embryos were not found during embryo thaw.

It is thought as many as 32 patients have been impacted by the problem, which was also reported to the Metropolitan Police in March.

Officers attended the facility, but there is no ongoing police investigation at this time, Homerton Healthcare has said.

Last Thursday (May 2), the HFEA announced that the clinic’s licence would remain suspended until August while its investigation continues.  

Patients already undergoing treatment at the centre can still use the facilities, but Homerton Healthcare has said it has worked to ensure this care is safely transferred elsewhere if requested.

Homerton Healthcare’s chief executive Bas Sadiq said: "We want to apologise again for the worry and distress these incidents have caused our patients.

“We are focused on continuing our investigations and doing everything we can to learn from and rectify the issues which have caused the loss of embryos in the fertility unit.”

A spokesperson for the trust added: “The trust… is also aiming to respond to all queries as quickly as possible, and is prioritising patients where timing is critical.”

They added that changes have already been made to the way the unit works.

This includes staff now working in pairs and increased security at access points in the unit.