Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport
As part of our commitment to improve health and wellbeing for all, this year we made additional funding available within the Welsh Government budget to improve gender identity provision in Wales.
To coincide with this weekend’s Pride Cymru event, I wanted to provide an update on the detailed work that has been undertaken in partnership with service users and GPC Wales on access to gender identity services. From this autumn, the foundations of a new interim care pathway will be in place to improve access to gender identity services for adults in Wales. The interim pathway has been endorsed by the All Wales Gender Identity Partnership Group, which includes representatives from the transgender community and service users.
Under the new model, a multidisciplinary service, known as the Welsh Gender Team (WGT), will provide support to a network of general practitioners (GPs) across Wales with a specialist interest in all areas of gender care, including hormone replacement therapy and will accept direct referrals from GPs
The service will initially facilitate the prescribing of medication for individuals who have already attended appointments at the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) in London. From the end of March next year, the WGT will accept new referrals and repatriate appropriate individuals who are currently on waiting lists for treatment. This will be done in partnership with the GIC, where the pathways will remain open for individuals with complex needs or those requesting gender reassignment surgery. Those who would prefer to continue their treatment with their current provider will be able to do so.
This new set of arrangements will result in shorter distances to travel to access services, improved waiting times and better user experience. It will also ensure that current clinic capacity is freed up for those requiring more specialised services and help shorten the steps between initial referral and beginning treatment. In parallel with the implementation of the new service, the Partnership Group will take the remainder of the recommendations forward to build on the interim service and develop a full gender identity service and referral pathway.
In addition, I am pleased to announce that the All Wales Gender Identity Partnership Group, chaired by Tracy Myhill, the NHS Chief Executive lead for gender, has appointed a number of dedicated representatives from across the transgender community. The new members have been actively involved in designing the new pathway and will continue to be involved in all future work. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their work to date and for their continued commitment and engagement in developing an improved service for transgender people in Wales.
Whilst this pathway is specifically for adults, work is also ongoing on developing an improved pathway for children. I will make a further announcement in the new year to keep you updated on the progress made.
Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in demand for transgender health services. I look forward to seeing great improvements to services, with all but the most specialist services delivered within Wales, as close to the homes of service users as possible.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.