Trans people could face wait of 12 YEARS for gender treatment
Trans people in England could soon be facing waits of up to 12 years for NHS gender treatment, unless action is taken to tackle backlogs, a group has warned.
Despite NHS England claiming that the all patients should be seen within 18 weeks, gender services across the country have been under increasing strain due to an influx of patients and limited capacity in recent years.
The surgeon who had performed the majority of the NHS’s gender reassignment surgery last year warned that gender identity backlogs are ‘spiralling out of control’ – and new figures show the problem is worse than ever.
Statistics released to trans group UK Trans Info through Freedom of Information requests show that there were has been an average of 284 new referrals for gender identity services per month, while just 167 patients have their first appointment in the same period.
Across the UK, there are now 2744 patients on waiting lists – which means that even if no more referrals are made, the existing backlog would take over a year to clear.
If patient referrals continue at the current rate and capacity does not increase, transgender people will end up stuck on waiting lists for years before seeing a doctor.
The group warns: “If nothing changes, all of the GICs (Gender Identity Clinics) will have waiting lists in excess of a year by March 2017, and those referred to [the Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service] Newcastle will have a wait of twelve and a half years.”
It would also leave patients referred to the Leeds GIC with a projected wait of 5 years 11 months, and patients referred to the Northamptonshire Gender Dysphoria Service with a projected wait of 7 years and 4 months.
Looking at the NHS target of 18 weeks, the group says there needs to be “a significant increase in new patients being seen each month” to reverse the issue of growing waiting lists.
To bring waiting lists under control, a 202% increase in capacity would be required across the UK – with a 400% increase in Northamptonshire, and a 625% increase in Newcastle.