Leeds & West Yorkshire

Measures to tackle Leeds transgender clinic waits

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Image caption NHS guidelines say an initial appointment should take place within 18 weeks, but in Leeds the average is 83 weeks

Measures aimed at cutting the time transgender people have to wait for a consultation at an NHS gender identity clinic (GIC) have been introduced.

NHS guidelines say patients should have an initial appointment within 18 weeks, but in Leeds the average is about 83.

Extra funding has been secured to address concerns about a lack of support for those on the waiting list.

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) said it hoped to meet its target by October 2018.

The Leeds GIC is one of seven adult clinics in England.

'Frustrating and dangerous'

In 2015/16 it received 533 referrals from GPs of which 370 came from outside of Yorkshire and The Humber, predominantly from the North West where there are no clinics.

LYPFT said it had introduced a new screening process to identify those unsuitable for the service more quickly and is recruiting peer support workers in West Yorkshire and Manchester to support those waiting for a consultation.

It has also secured "significant investment" from NHS England to increase staffing capacity to a level it says will allow it to handle 40 extra assessments a month.

Image caption Jackie Kernaghan said the lengthy waits could be "frustrating and dangerous" for transgender people

Jackie Kernaghan, 21, from York, has been on the waiting list for Leeds GIC since August 2014.

She said the wait was both "frustrating and dangerous" for transgender people.

"You are very much left alone," she said.

"There's no contact to see how you are doing, it's very much that you are on the waiting list and you just have to wait.

"A lot of transgender people are in very vulnerable positions that can only be aggravated by a long waiting period."

Other GICs have also seen a similar increase in demand.

At Sheffield GIC referrals have risen from 71 in 2010 to 350 in 2015, while the West London GIC, said referrals had risen on average 15% each year to 1,892 in 2015/16.

Andy Weir, from LYPFT, said through increasing capacity it expected to see a "significant drop" in waiting times and hoped the introduction of peer support workers would "ensure a more proactive period of support and signposting for service users".

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