Today the Good Law Project announced it was to launch legal action in an attempt to ensure NHS England adheres to its own 18-week maximum waiting times limit for young people accessing Gender Identity Development Services. At the moment, waiting times are as high as four years, more than just a touch over the legal limits. This has been a longstanding issue that existed before the pandemic exacerbated waiting times further for all people.
Trans young people, as with all people accessing any NHS service, are entitled to an appointment within 18 weeks from a referral. It is a scandal that the waiting lists have been allowed to grow to such disastrous lengths, endangering young people who want and need access to the UK’s only NHS service for trans under-18s.
We are proud to be working with The Good Law Project on this and any potential future actions that come from this legal action, and stand with Stonewall, Amnesty International UK and Liberty in asking that these waiting times are urgently addressed.
Dr Jay Stewart, CEO of Gendered Intelligence, says:
Gendered Intelligence warmly welcomes this necessary intervention to address the crushing waiting times currently in place at GIDS. We never have and never would advocate for a rush towards any medical treatment for young people, and reiterate that these unacceptable waiting times mean simply that young people aren’t getting timely, robust guidance or professional direction with regards to an exploration of their gender identity. We all intrinsically know that this cannot be right.
We know too that whilst the pandemic has certainly exacerbated these cruelly long waiting times, the issue existed well in advance of the virus’s arrival in the UK. GIDS can act as a much-needed reference and support centre for young gender diverse people, and these waiting times serve only to place further, major obstacles to going through those proper and legal channels.
Cara English, Head of Public Engagement at Gendered Intelligence, says:
The aim of our involvement at Gendered Intelligence is to highlight the waiting times and their illegality and to have this properly addressed so that trans young people can get on with their lives in peace.
NHS England have to realise that these waiting times are not going to disappear with no positive action on their part, and that forcing people to wait for years for a first appointment is an unacceptable outcome for all.
We know of and welcome the Cass Review, and would highlight that whilst the review will hopefully raise recommendations on what can be done going forward, this legal action is about the here and now.
We need to do better for our young people. As trans communities we need a wholesale understanding of our healthcare needs, and at Gendered Intelligence we believe this intervention is a key first step to achieving and prioritising just that.
The Good Law Project has launched a ‘Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives’ which will aim to tackle similar injustices being levied against trans people through legal advocacy and action.