Transgender people are waiting up to 18 months for an initial consultation at specialist NHS gender identity clinics.
Those seeking gender reassignment at one of England’s eight centres face a further wait of more than three years.
Under NHS guidelines, an initial appointment for hormone therapy and surgery should be within 18 weeks.
NHS England said centres were limited due a shortage of “suitably qualified staff” but an additional £4m funding has been put into the services.
A Transgender Equality report recommended an overhaul of the system, after noting “unacceptably long” waiting times.
There are currently about 4,500 referrals to gender identity clinics in England per year, NHS England said.
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report said the demand for the clinics is growing at 25-30% each year.
It said one of the largest clinics, based in London, has admitted that waiting times are “between 12 and 18 months” for an initial consultation.
At the current rate, it is forecasting waiting times for physical surgery to be at three-and-a-half years, by 2017.
Transgender people in the north west of England, where no clinics exists, are travelling to Leeds, Sheffield, the Midlands or London for treatment.
Ashleigh Talbot, from Manchester, is receiving hormone treatment after receiving her prescription three years after first approaching her GP.
With no clinics in her local area, she was referred to the Charing Cross clinic in London.
“I’ve finally been on the hormones since August… after having initially spoken to my GP in 2012,” she said.
“I elected to go [to London] because actually I was told by the community mental health team that the waiting time for Leeds would be an additional three years.”
Transgender people are usually required to undergo hormone therapy for a year, before further consultations at a gender identity clinic.
If surgery is deemed appropriate, they are given a consultation with …read more
Source:: BBC world news feed