Calls for independent review after surgery for trans men cancelled for a year

A trans healthcare expert from the University of Bradford is calling for an independent review to look into why lower body surgery for transgender men has been cancelled for a year on the NHS, adding years onto waiting times.

The NHS cut its contract with the only place in the UK to provide the surgery, St Peter’s Andrology Centre. From October 2020 phalloplasty and metoidioplasty surgeries, which construct a penis, have been cancelled. 

While the NHS has recently appointed a new provider, New Victoria Hospital, there is no date for when operations can resume. 

Campaigners say it has had a devastating effect on the mental health of transgender men who are at all stages of the transitioning process.

Joshua was born a girl but has started his transitioning process.

Joshua, who is 26 and from Sheffield, still has two surgeries to go before his transition is complete. 

He says having upper half surgery has completely changed his life.

Since having his next surgery cancelled, and without a new date in sight, Joshua feels like he cannot move on.

Joshua still has long operations ahead of him before his treatment is finished.

Dr Jack López from the University of Bradford has written reports looking at the issue. He says the system is “broken” and is calling for a review to look at how the operations have not been able to take place.

  • Dr Jack López speaking to ITV Calendar

The group TransActual UK, which campaigns for the rights of trans people, has been campaigning for a new provider to be found and wrote to the Health Minister demanding action be taken.

Group Director Chay Brown, who is also awaiting surgery, says while this news is a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go. 

He said: "For me, there's still a lot of questions such as when will they be starting surgeries, how long extra can people expect to wait.

"Some people are going to be waiting years still if nothing else is put in place and that has a toll on people's mental health."

In a statement, the healthcare provider said: "After a thorough process the NHS has agreed for New Victoria Hospital to be the first new provider for trans male surgery with additional providers expected to be appointed soon and we are currently writing to all patients to update them on next steps."

Aside from the wait for surgery, getting appointments for hormone therapy to start the process is also a problem. 

Before the pandemic people transitioning already had long delays for treatment, with the shortest waiting times for appointments at Gender Identity Clinics taking around 18 months. 

  • In Leeds, more than 2,600 people are on the waiting list.

  • In Sheffield, nearly 1,300 people are on the waiting list.

Both the Sheffield and Leeds clinics say they are working hard to tackle the Covid backlogs that have built up during the pandemic and that NHS investment and support is increasing to meet the extra demand for gender identity services. 

For help and advice on transitioning you can visit the following websites: