UK: Transgender teenager takes legal action over the years-long wait faced by young people requesting appointments with NHS specialists

The UK is not facing easy times due to the Pandemic caused by Coronavirus, the Brexit which is approaching in less than 40 days and  the NHS which is fighting not to collapse under the hit of Covid-19 cases. 

There is one thing, though, that is not depending on the obove situation, and for which the NHS will have to provide some explanations: their waiting times both for transgender adults and children that have waiting times of years! 

NHS waiting time is 18 weeks, but some patients have to wait over 193 weeks only to get to their initial appointment. Things are harder for teen-trans, as there is only one clinic for young people seeking transition in the entire country of her Majesty Elizabeth II.

Reece, a 14-year-old-boy, has started a legal action with the support of legal activist group the Good Law Project.

In an open letter sent to NHS England, lawyers from the Good Law Project explained:

We are aware of many children who are waiting two to three years, with some reports suggesting wait times approaching four years. […] ]We contend that NHS England is acting unlawfully by failing to ensure that [people referred to the clinic] have commenced appropriate treatment within 18 weeks. […] Further NHS England is acting unlawfully in that, following notification that he does not agree to the waiting times and requires an alternative provider, that NHS England has failed to take any steps to arrange alternative provision for the teen.”

Lawyers are rightly asking NHS England to first of all “confirm the location and nature of the alternative provision which it is prepared to commission” and then to specify “what steps, if any, NHS England is presently taking to work with the trust to reduce waiting times to the 18 weeks agreed level including any steps to expand capacity for the GID service at the trust”.

Why is it so vital that teen-transgender-patients see a specialist in the shortest time possible?

The delays in having a meeting with a specialist, mean that transgender children are left for years without specialist psychological support, and by the time many are seen it is too late for them to start puberty blocker treatment.

In an interview with the BBC (video published below), Rece said: “he did not want to resort to the measure but ‘nobody else is sticking up for trans young people’.”

He then added: “I know more than 30 trans people, from school and LGBT+ groups. Everybody’s been waiting for months, or even years, but nobody’s been able to get in yet. t’s scary because it shows the service isn’t available to the people who need it.”

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