Find out how we have helped people to share their views and experiences of gender identity services.
Healthwatch England has raised concerns with NHS England over Gender Identity Services. This is based on feedback from around the local Healthwatch network which shows that sometimes the help that people need is not there.
- Waiting times for operations, which should be less than 18 weeks, are sometimes as much as 21 months.
- Demand for services for transgender people is increasing each year – but there are not enough specialist services to cope.
- Communication with patients is poor, leaving people who are waiting for help unsure as to when they might get it.
Leanne Wilkinson is a volunteer with Healthwatch Devon. To help publicise and explain the problems, Leanne told her story in the Guardian newspaper. She also attended a national symposium with Healthwatch England and NHS England to start tackling the issues.
This report sets out what you told us
What we did
We carried out a short survey, asking people to tell us about their experiences of seeking help from both general and specialist practitioners. Working with partner organisations, and via an extensive twitter campaign, we were able to hear back from 149 people. Responses all came in online, and via our website. This naturally means that the responses are skewed towards those who are willing and able to use the internet; nevertheless it was clear that people valued this opportunity to share their stories.
Key issues revealed by our survey include:
• Waiting times for consultations and treatment are longer than they should be
• The information provided by the NHS is not up to date
• Good GPs supported their patients throughout the process, but some were criticised for their lack of understanding about trans issues
• There can be a lack of understanding about the rights and status of trans people at all levels of service delivery and in all areas, even the surgical wards
We are pleased that Healthwatch England and NHS England have welcomed our report and continue to invite us the feed our findings into discussions about how service quality can be improved.
During the drafting of our report, we saw the publication of the Cross Parliamentary report on Transgender Equality, and we hope that this will lend force to current thinking and planning within NHS England.
See how the issues were reported on BBC Spotlight.