Transgender people in South West facing seven-year wait for vital medical treatment

  • Watch Jacqui Bird's report

Transgender people in the South West are facing a seven-year wait for a vital medical NHS assessment ahead of treatment.

The Laurels Clinic in Exeter provide hormones to help people transition safely, and at the moment they have the worst waiting list in the country.

NHS England says people should be seen within 18 weeks of referral, but at the moment the average wait time is seven years (84 months), just for an initial assessment.

There are currently more than 4,000 people on the waiting list, only 573 of which are getting treatment right now.

Those who are being seen now were referred in 2016.

Kaz Self from Trans Pride South West highlighted the knock on impact of these long waiting lists: "It has a real impact on their mental health because trans people just want to get on with their lives and be their authentic selves.

"If they think they're going to have to wait years and years it can be a real detriment to their mental health."

Kaz Self spoke about the impact waiting lists can have on people's mental health.

Andy Hunt from the Intercom Trust said: "People are buying hormones on the internet because they just want to make their lives different, they want to live authentically as their own authentic self and it's such a difficult thing to do now with the waiting lists being so long."

Elliot Kenton has been waiting for an appointment at the Laurels Gender Identity Clinic in Exeter for four and a half years and said there's a lack of understanding about what is needed. He said: "It feels like we're not taken seriously, and not shown respect by medical professionals that we deserve.

"Gender reassignment is listed as a protected characteristic but even that doesn't feel enough because it feels like there's a lack of recognition from the medical profession."

  • Cleo Madeleine from Gendered Intelligence speaks about the long-running issue

According to Cleo Madeleine, a spokesperson for Gendered Intelligence, a charity which exists to improve the lives of trans people, this is a problem which has been coming "a long time".

She said: "Organisations like ourselves have been talking to [the NHS] about this for a long time. There have been so many opportunities for them to provide more funding, to expand services, to provide better training, or better staffing for these services, and that just hasn't happened.

"It's going to be years before we see any real difference, and unfortunately, I think a lot of people are thinking, certainly a lot of people are saying, it's too little, too late."

The West of England Specialist Gender Identity Clinic told ITV West Country: "We know how stressful long waiting times can be.

"This is a problem seen across the country, created by a steep rise in demand in recent years.

"We will shortly be making an announcement about some exciting developments and improvements to our service."