Welsh transgender patients attending the Charing Cross clinic must be provided with certainty over their future treatment, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have said, following an announcement that the clinic's managing Trust is terminating its contract with NHS England.
Welsh Lib Dem Equalities Spokesperson Cadan ap Tomos has written to the Welsh Health Secretary seeking clarification of the situation. Despite being commissioned to provide services for Welsh trans patients in the absence of dedicated services in Wales, the announcement by the West London Mental Health Trust makes no mention of the situation for Welsh patients.
The party has also repeated its calls for a Gender Identity Clinic to be established in Wales. having raised the issue during their landmark Assembly debate on transgender issues in November 2014.
Cadan ap Tomos, Welsh Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson, said:
"Given significant problems already exist with lengthy waiting lists for trans patients, any further disruption to this service would be very concerning. The Trust has assured patients that services in the short term will not be affected, but make no mention of the services provided to Welsh patients in their announcement.
"I've written to the Health Secretary, hoping he can provide assurances to Welsh people attending Charing Cross clinic who will naturally be feeling anxious at this time. At the very least, he must ensure that those in the middle of their transition see no disruption to their treatment during any changes to the services.
"If the Welsh NHS needs to find new arrangements for gender identity services, I hope the Health Secretary will seriously consider establishing a dedicated clinic in Wales. Doing so would not only add supply to help meet overwhelming demand, but also provide Welsh trans people with treatment closer to home."
Cadan ap Tomos' full letter to the Health Secretary is below.
Dear Health Secretary,
I have read today with concern the news that the West London Mental Health Trust (WLMHT), provider for gender identity services at the Charing Cross clinic, has served notice on its contract, leaving NHS England searching for a new provider.
As you will be aware, this is the clinic also used by most Welsh adult trans patients during their transition due to the absence of such facilities here in Wales. Although the Trust has assured patients that they will continue to provide services in the short term until an alternative provider can be found, I note that no announcement has been made regarding their provision for patients from Wales.
I am therefore writing to seek clarification from your Government regarding the ongoing situation for gender identity services provided by the Welsh NHS. Does NHS Wales commission these services directly from the WLMHT, or are these services are provided via an agreement with NHS England? Regardless, I would welcome any clarification you can give on the situation that Welsh trans patients find themselves in, and on how their treatment will be affected.
If it transpires that a new arrangement will need to be created for Welsh trans patients, I would once again urge you to consider establishing a Gender Identity Clinic here in Wales. You will be aware that demand for these services far outstrips supply across the UK. Establishing a dedicated clinic in Wales would not only help provide extra supply to cut waiting lists, but also ensure trans patients and their families can undergo their transition closer to home instead of having to travel vast distances.
I look forward to your response in due course.
Cadan ap Tomos
Welsh Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson