There is currently no alternative provider in sight
A huge rise in demand for services for trans people has seen the UK’s largest gender identity clinic move to a new provider for transition services.
The West London Mental Health Trust gave notice on their contract with NHS England today (25 August).
News of the change has raised concerns among trans people and their supporters as there is no alternative in sight.
In a statement from the WLMHT, the Trust said they will concentrate on mental health services instead of transition. They said this was because of ‘societal attitudes and understanding of this issue has improved so vastly’.
‘This has been challenging for the clinic and resulted in waiting times that are longer than we would like,’ they continued.
‘The Trust has come to the conclusion that patients requiring gender identity services would be better served in the long term by another provider, and has therefore served notice on our contract to NHS England.’
The number of referrals had almost quadrupled in 10 years at Charing Cross, from 498 in 2006-07 to 1,892 in 2015-16.
New patients had to wait to up to four years for their first appointment.
The WLMHT said the clinic will not close immediately – not for six months at least, and and people will not have to start their transition over again with a new provider. They also said they were committed to not reducing staffing and will ensure a smooth handover to the new clinic.
This means there will still be seven gender identity clinics in England. One in London, for the capital and south-east, one each in Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, covering the North, one in Daventry and Nottingham, for the Midlands, and one in Exeter, for the South-West.
A spokesperson for West London Mental Health NHS Trust told Gay Star News they will keep running until a new provider is found for transition services.
”We are absolutely committed to running the Gender Identity Clinic until such a time as NHS England have found a new provider for the service," they said.
‘To ensure disruption to treatment is kept to an absolute minimum, we will not suspend our running of the service until that new provider is established and able to fully run the service.’
Will Huxter, Chair of NHS England’s Gender Identity Task and Finish Group, said in a statement to GSN: ‘We are working with the Trust and clinic staff to ensure that a new provider is found as soon as possible, and that the process is seamless for patients.’
UPDATE: The WLMHT would like to reassure Gay Star News readers they have no plans of closing or ending transition services until NHS England finds a new provider.
By Joe Morgan