Jim Hume questions Scottish Government on gender identity clinic waiting times

If you are a young transgender person still at school, struggling to come to terms with your gender identity, you need specialised help pretty quickly. You should not have to wait a minimum of 7 months to see a specialist. If you are older, you should not be told that the waiting list is a year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume has highlighted this as another area in which the Scottish Government is failing to meet its 18 week target for referrals. This one will take a lot of thinking about as there are so few specialists in the gender identity field. They will have to come up with some long term plans to recruit and train more.

Kaleidoscot reports on Jim’s call for the Scottish Health Secretary to review provision for transgender people:

At the end of July, zero patients on the waiting list at Sandyford had been seen within the Referral to Treatment Target of 18 weeks. The figures revealed that 285 people remain on waiting lists for a GIC appointment across Scotland.

Commenting, Mr Hume said: “With people seeking help from GICs in Scotland facing waits of more than one year for a first appointment, there is a compelling case for SNP Ministers to look again that the support that we provide for the hard-pressed NHS staff working at these clinics.

“Clearly, there are substantial capacity issues here and delays can have real impact on the health of Trans people waiting for treatment.

“It is vital that Trans and non-binary people are getting the help they need. Hundreds of people in Scotland are languishing on waiting lists and unless we review these services that is where they will remain.”

Last month it was revealed that many transgender Scots are waiting for increasingly long periods for treatment due to a chronic shortage of suitable qualified professionals.

Liberal Democrat conference debated a health charter for transgender and intersex people two weeks ago. The motion passed without opposition and it was particularly good to see the party President, Sal Brinton, make a pretty passionate speech in its favour. Coming to terms with gender identity has often been a lonely and difficult struggle for people. To have prominent politicians on both sides of the Atlantic (Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden have both championed transgender rights this week) is a huge step forward. We now need action to make sure that everyone gets the help they need quickly.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Jennie Kermode 7th Oct '15 - 10:30am

    As chair of a leading charity working in this sector, I have bee impressed by the Lib Dems’ action on this. I think the problem is partly cultural – reducing the stigma around trans issues is important to encouraging more young medics to specialise in this area – but politicians taking action helps with this, and it’s important to get rid of laws and practices which may be interpreted by some as the state condoning prejudice.

    I have been particularly encouraged by the Lib Dems’ concern about intersex people. I wonder if you know that there are presently no specialists qualified to diagnose intersex in Scotland, which means that patients – even very young babies – need to travel down to London at a time that can be highly traumatic for them and their families. This adds to the pressure that can lead to people making bad decisions about the surgical options presented to them at a time when the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture has recommended a moratorium on ‘normalisation’ surgery that is not medically essential. The Scottish government has also indicated concern about this area so it would be good to see politicians taking the initiative and making sure meaningful change actually happens.

  • @Jennie: Could be a good idea to get in touch with some people in the Scottish party; as health is devolved, our motion we passed last month mostly only applies to England. In spirit, though, we support its extension to other nations of the UK and other nations in the world.

  • This should not be a subject for political point scoring. Any proposals would be welcomed by the Govt. Put them forward.

  • Jim is a credit to the party……. and great to see the progress he has made with his smoking in cars bill.

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