It’s emerged that a 17-year-old transgender teenager from Penarth has now been kept waiting for 2 years for a referral to a National Health Service gender identity specialist …and has still not received an appointment.
The case has highlighted what campaigners say is a lack of provision for the care of such patients in Wales where reportedly some cases are kept a queue for up to 4 years before receiving a consultation.
Because the teenager – Rowan (who’s aged 17) – has yet to be seen by a specialist she cannot be prescribed the hormone drugs required to treat her condition.
Her mother – Ceri Lambert – has told BBC Wales that her daughter’s prolonged wait to see a specialist is “heartbreaking” and said she has even considered buying hormone treatments on the internet for her daughter .
She says “If you’re willing to pay and you don’t ask too many questions about where they come from, a lot of people go down that route. You see your child in that much distress and nothing is happening, and you feel utterly helpless. She admits “Yes, I was on-line thinking ‘should I do this for my child?'”
Unlike the NHS in England, there is no Gender Identity Clinic in Wales. Welsh patients are normally referred to the Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust in London instead of having a local consultation. Campaigners say that not only are Welsh patients having to wait a long time for appointments, but they are also being prescribed anti-depressants in the meantime.
In its draft budget announced last week the Welsh Government promised £1,000,000 in extra funding to improve support for patients on this side of Offa’s Dyke to set up“gender identity” clinics and for “eating disorder” clinics in Wales and claims to be developing what it calls “a gender identity care pathway” which would include guidance for healthcare practitioners.
The Welsh Government says “The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee is to ensure trans people and NHS providers are clear on what services should be available”