New figures have revealed that the number of transgender patients waiting for an appointment at the Devon transgender health clinic, The Laurels, has doubled. In fact, some patients have been waiting almost three years to get an appointment at the clinic.
According to the Freedom of Information, The Laurels, which is one of the 7 gender clinics in England, has 1723 patients waiting for an appointment which is double the number of people on its waiting list two years ago.
Most patients always wait two years or longer in order to make an appointment at the GCI. This is despite the NHS England Pledge of 2016 that recommends waiting times to be within 18 weeks. At the Laurels, the longest time a patient has waited to make an appointment is 120 weeks (1280 days). This is nearly 10 times the requirement of the NHS for a first appointment.
Over the years, the number of transgender patients at the Laurels has increased as more people feel confident to embrace treatment. The clinic received 21 referrals in 2007 and 717 referrals in 2018 which comprised of 322 women, 383 men, 10 non-binary people, and 2 who classified their gender as ‘undefined’.
Of the 2018 referrals to The Laurels, 40 came from Devon. In 2019, between the months of January and March, there were 130 referrals.
In September 2016, the Laurels had 580 people on their waiting list with an average wait of 12 months for the first appointment. For this reason, the Devon Partnership Trust that runs The Laurels was asked to suspend new referrals in 2017.
With the increasing number of patients waiting for appointments at The Laurels, there was fear that the patients couldn’t be safely treated. They, however, ignored those calls resulting in a high number of trans patients facing “soul destroying” waiting times for their first appointment.