On Wednesday, November 16, clinicians with the National Gender Service (NGS) told TDs and Senators about the urgent need for improvement in transgender healthcare services in Ireland. The meeting held in the Leinster House AV Room invited government officials, members of the trans community and clinicians from the NGS to attend. Organised by Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan and independent Senator Michael McDowell, it comes after the announced closure of the Tavistock Clinic in the UK.
The Tavistock and Portman Clinic was the UK’s only dedicated gender identity clinic for children and young people. Previously, many Irish people from this cohort were referred to the centre under the Treatment Abroad Scheme. Due to the closure in the UK, clinicians attending the meeting called on government officials to expand trans healthcare services in this country, as well as calling for additional funding and resources, specifically for complex surgeries, according to theJournal.ie.
The HSE reportedly aims to initiate a dedicated psychiatric service for gender dysphoria in Ireland in CHI Crumlin and Linn Dara. Reports from the meeting also mention a disagreement surrounding waiting times. Initially, healthcare professionals told government representatives about a three-year waiting list for initial referrals. However, one attendee said they sought a referral last year and still haven’t heard from the NGS, continuing to say they knew other people waiting longer than three years.
Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan told theJournal.ie after the meeting that she welcomes “the core message delivered by the clinicians present – that trans healthcare in this country needs further funding and resources and that the service should be expanded.” She continued, “I am particularly glad to see a focus on developing and delivering the complex surgical expertise required within the Irish healthcare sector rather than exporting the issue to other countries.”
The Leinster House meeting comes after a Transgender Europe (TGEU) study revealed Ireland to rank the lowest in the EU for availability and accessibility of trans healthcare. There are currently 1,200 people in Ireland on waiting lists for first appointments to begin gender-affirming treatment, according to a spokesperson from the National Gender Service.
According to the Irish Examiner, the NGS spokesperson said that “The National Gender Service is aware of concerns about increasing waiting times. At present, waiting times are over three years, which is clearly an unacceptably long wait time.”
The NGS is calling for dedicated investment and recruitment from the HSE to resolve this immense problem within Irish trans healthcare.
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