NHS England to launch new pilot scheme for trans healthcare ‘this summer’, MPs told
NHS England is opening a fourth pilot scheme for trans healthcare in England in the next few months, MPs have been told.
The fourth pilot scheme will be “opening this summer” in the east of England, John Stewart, the national director of specialised commissioning at NHS England, told MPs today.
Stewart was giving evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee on transgender healthcare as part of its inquiry into the reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
There are three existing pilot schemes, in London, Manchester and Merseyside, which started running last year.
The pilot schemes take trans and non-binary people who are on a waiting list for an NHS gender clinic, rather than accepting referrals directly from a GP.
The fourth pilot scheme “will cover patients registered with a GP in Cambridge, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex”, Stewart said. He added that the pilot scheme will be led by the Nottingham Gender Dysphoria Clinic with the Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trusts, and will work on a “specialist hub and spoke basis with GPs and nurses in local settings”.
Questioned by Kate Osbourne, Labour MP for Harrow, Stewart said he was “confident” that the pilot scheme would be “opening this summer, in the next couple of months”.
Stewart told the committee that he would write to them with more detail. NHS England has confirmed to PinkNews that the new pilot scheme will also cover Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Milton Keynes and is hoping to launch this summer.
The three existing pilot schemes will take around 500 patients each. As of 2020, more than 13,500 trans and non-binary were on a waiting list for an NHS gender clinic.
The NHS constitution mandates that the waiting time for a first appointment at a gender clinic after being referred by a GP should be no more than 18 weeks, but in many parts of the country this wait is now five years.
Tory equalities minister Liz Truss announced the pilot schemes when she scrapped GRA reform in September 2020. However, she branded them as “new” gender clinics, when in reality she was referring to three pilot schemes that had been announced by NHS England earlier in the year, which were already up, running and seeing patients.