Closed petition Increase funding for NHS transgender services

Currently in England trans people are regularly having to choose between waiting years to get the treatment that they need through the NHS, and paying upwards of £8000-10000 to go privately. This is unacceptable and can cause of exacerbate mental health issues.

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The waiting times for some gender clinics range from 24 months at the low end to 60 months at the top end. This is completely horrendous, as things such as hormone treatment and surgery are literally life-saving procedures for many. Funding for infrastructure needs to be put in place to support transgender people looking to transition through the NHS and shorten these wait times. Many cannot afford to pay £8000-£10000 to go privately and should not be forced to.

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Government responded

This response was given on 7 May 2021

The Government is providing additional funding and resources to help reduce waiting times for gender identity services and is planning further additional services.

Read the response in full

Both the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) have recognised that waiting times for gender identity services, driven by increasing demand, are unacceptably long, despite a £6 million increase in yearly funding since 2016/17.

To address this NHSE/I concluded that a new delivery model was necessary; one that could offer access to specialist interventions in primary care and other local health settings. Three sites were identified to run as pilots for the new delivery model. These are in, London, Manchester, and Cheshire and Merseyside.

The first of these new services, in London, began seeing patients in July 2020. The service is run by Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust and is sited alongside a specialist sexual health service run by the trust. The second is in Greater Manchester which began seeing patients in December 2020 and the third service in Cheshire and Merseyside began seeing patients in January 2021.

Following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a pause in elective non-emergency services to reduce pressure on hospital services and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, there has been focus on the recovery of the services, and £1 billion has been allocated, as a part of the spending review, for the recovery of elective services. The Department of Health and Social Care is currently working with NHSE/I and local system on how best to allocate funding.

Whilst funding is important for services, it is recognised that having the right workforce is vital. To enable this, in 2020 the NHS established the UKs first accredited post-graduate training credential in gender medicine. The course is delivered by the Royal College of Physicians and University of London with the aim to increase the professional workforce.

Further we recognise that people’s access to mental health services is very important which is why we are investing an additional £2.3 billion a year in mental health services by 2023/24. This funding will allow more people to be seen more quickly by mental health professionals.
We recognise that transgender and other LGBTQ+ people can be disproportionately affected by poor mental health compared to other groups. We are committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, and to ensuring that the right support is in place.

We are doing our utmost to ensure that our services are there for everyone who needs them during the pandemic. The NHS has worked hard to deliver services, using technology and face to face appointments where appropriate. All mental health trusts have established 24/7 urgent mental health helplines so people experiencing a mental health crisis can access support and advice. We have invested more than £10 million in supporting national and local mental health charities, including some who work with the LGBT community, to continue their vital work in supporting people across the country.

In addition, we have published our Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, backed by a one-off targeted investment of £500 million, to ensure that we have the right support in place over the coming year. This includes £79million to expand support in children and young people’s mental health services, and £110m to expand adult mental health services including psychological therapies, implementing the community mental health framework, investment in crisis services and additional investment in suicide prevention programmes.

The NHS has published its Advancing Mental Health Equalities Strategy to support local health systems to better address inequalities in mental health services. Implementation of the strategy will be overseen by the Advancing Mental Health Equalities Taskforce.

Department of Health and Social Care