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Referrals to Ireland’s National Gender Service ‘misplaced’, with some trans people waiting for three years

Patrick Kelleher November 6, 2019
Trans people were referred to gender clinic in Ireland but were never seen

Drew Angerer/Getty

More than 100 referrals to a public gender service in Ireland have been “misplaced”, meaning some trans people have been waiting three years for appointments that never materialised.

The National Gender Service (NGS) – which is based at St Colmcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown – announced the error today.

The error was discovered as part of a review process that showed that 109 trans people had been referred to the service but had never been added to the waiting list.

A spokesman for the Ireland East Hospital Group confirmed that the 109 transgender people will receive letters informing them of the error. He said that those affected will be put on the waiting list at the correct position.

“We apologise to those affected by this discovery, their families, and the transgender community in Ireland,” the spokesman said.

“The National Gender Service is committed to continuing our quality improvement programme and will continue to review all processes regularly. We are now confident that this issue has been fully resolved and will not be repeated.”

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) is ‘shocked and disappointed’ at waiting list error.

Earlier today, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) said they were “shocked and disappointed” at what they called a “disregard” for patients.

“This will have a devastating impact on our community. It is a breach of trust. Our community told us that they were waiting too long, that their referrals were lost in the system and that they were not being kept informed. We knew these concerns were valid. Now the National Gender Service has finally admitted that their system has failed us.”

Furthermore, the group said they had raised concerns about the system “consistently” – but had not received an acceptable response.

Meanwhile, This Is Me Ireland – an organisation that works to improve trans people’s access to healthcare – said that their concerns about the system have been “rejected, disputed and denied” by the National Gender Service.

I would be concerned about some people getting this letter and feeling that they’ve been completely ignored. That must be a really tough thing to come to terms with.

“We are not at all shocked or surprised by this information, as this is information that we have been trying to expose for some time now,” the organisation said.

“We are only shocked and surprised by the National Gender Service’s public admission to this long known situation.

Trans
Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty

This Is Me also pointed out that the error will likely mean another increase to the already lengthy waiting list.

Concerns have been raised about the impact of the error on the mental health of trans people.

Gordon Grehan of TENI told PinkNews that trans people in Ireland have been concerned about their referrals to the National Gender Service for some time.

“When they tried to make contact with the National Gender Service, they weren’t getting through to anyone. Their voicemails didn’t seem to be listened to, they weren’t getting any responses,” Grehan said.

“We knew that this was happening, we just didn’t know the scale of it.”

He also explained that some of those 109 people may have sought hormone treatment elsewhere in the interim. There are two other clinics in Ireland which offer a similar service, and some trans people opt to buy hormones online in the face of lengthy waiting lists.

“Some of those people may no longer need to link in with the National Gender Service, but for some of those people, they have been waiting and not knowing what’s been going on,” Grehan said.

“For some people this may be a light at the end of a tunnel, but I would be concerned about some people getting this letter and feeling that they’ve been completely ignored. That must be a really tough thing to come to terms with – they thought they were in a process and nothing was actually happening. That’s hard to take in.”

Grehan also expressed concern for those already on the waiting list who will now have their appointments pushed back.

“We have a real fear that this could have a devastating impact on somebody who is already on the list,” he added.

More: healthcare, hse, Ireland, this is me ireland, trans flag, Transgender, Transgender Equality Network Ireland

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