Around 1 in 5 trans patients are denied proper care by their GPs, according to this senior nurse
A senior nurse at a private Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) has said that around 20 percent of the trans people she treats have been denied care and support by their GPs.
Mary Burke, senior clinical nurse at The London Transgender Clinic and specialist in hormone therapy, said that GPs refusing to provide adequate care to trans people is “utterly disgraceful”.
Burke said in the case of one of her patients, she approached their GP to organise “shared care” between the GP and the private clinic.
She offered them “support and our Clinic’s contact details” but “the GP still refused to offer care”.
She added: “The patient in this case attempted suicide and ended up being admitted to a psychiatric ward for four nights… When this patient was discharged, the psychiatric discharge letter written by the psychiatrist clearly stated that this patient was still at risk as they could not access the care they required.
“For a second time this patient attempted to register with a new GP practice requesting care and this GP also refused.
“On writing to Oxfordshire CCG (clinical commissioning group) to enquire about their policy not to treat transgender patients who have been seen by a private provider, the reply stated it was the GP’s decision.”
Burke said that GPs refusing to provide proper care and waiting times for NHS GICs are causing severe harm to trans people.
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She continued: “Most of my patients are having to wait three to five years before they can medically transition.
“Around 80 per cent of our patients will have suffered from depression and anxiety, 60 per cent to 70 per cent of our patients will have a history of deliberate self-harm and around half of our patients will have experienced suicidal ideation or attempted suicide as they are unable to access the care they so desperately need.
“Around 80 per cent of the GPs I correspond with are happy to provide care and some are absolutely amazing going above and beyond their duty of care.
“But there is still a large proportion who are not – and that is utterly disgraceful.
“If they don’t care to understand the issues and seek education and support on behalf of their patients, they should not be practising.”
Director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, Laura Russell, said: “It’s crucial that all healthcare professionals, including GPs, are working to ensure trans patients are treated equally because our research shows two in five trans people (37 per cent) avoid treatment for fear of discrimination.
“While we know the majority of healthcare professionals want to deliver the best possible service to trans people, discrimination is clearly still a problem.
“That’s why we want training for all frontline health and social care professionals to better understand and meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bi and trans patients and service users.”