'More needs to be done' to help hundreds on waiting list for NHS gender identity clinic in Northamptonshire
An LGBT charity believes 'more has to be done' to help the hundreds of transgender and non-binary adults waiting for an NHS gender identity clinic in Northamptonshire.
A total of 759 people are on the waiting list for the service based at Danetre Hospital in Daventry, which supports over-18s with gender dysphoria and offers a range of treatments.
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT), which manages the service, said 'substantial progress' has been made to deal with an increase in national demand.
But Emma Meehan, assistant director of public affairs at LGBT Foundation, claims the figure is still too high.
"Currently the NHS is falling drastically short when it comes to supporting trans and non-binary people," she said.
Gender dysphoria makes people experience discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.
Clinics, like the one in Daventry, offer services on the NHS including hormone treatment, facial hair removal, genital hair removal prior to surgery, voice coaching, speech and language therapy and psychological support.
The number of people on the Northamptonshire waiting list is the second-smallest out of the seven NHS clinics in England, according to BBC News.
The NHS guidelines for the time between referral to a gender identity clinic and treatment is 18 weeks but LGBT Foundation says the average wait for a first-appointment is 18 months.
People often have to access treatment far from their home as referrals are made from across the country with not enough clinics, creating additional pressures, according to Ms Meehan.
"More has to be done to guarantee that the trans and non-binary people of Northamptonshire and across the country have access to the healthcare they deserve, and many take for granted," she said.
"We urge the NHS to urgently commit to the roll-out of timely, local and appropriate trans health services across the country and to bring these waiting times down.”
The other NHS gender identity clinics for adults in England are in Devon, Leeds, London, Northumberland, Nottingham and Sheffield.
An NHFT spokeswoman said: "The gender identity clinic is a national service which means we accept referrals from all over the country.
"Nationally there has been an increased demand on gender identity clinic services across the country which are reflected in the reported waiting times.
"As part of our continuous commitment to quality patient care, we have recognised these challenges and have made substantial progress in growing our workforce to support this increased demand."