Noah Halpin, the Department of Health Ministerial Representative to the National Trans Healthcare Steering Committee, has released a document detailing the lack of co-operation and progress in the examination of the Steering Committee’s concluding report which was submitted in February 2020.
In his statement, Halpin says that he has attempted to contact the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly six times since his appointment to discuss the delay.
Hapin was appointed as the Ministerial Representative in 2019 when then Minister for Health Simon Harris decided to establish
a National Trans Healthcare Steering Committee to explore the issues surrounding current healthcare provided to transgender people in Ireland.
Halpin says that the most concerning aspect of the current situation is that both the Department of Health and the HSE are at odds with
one another as to the exact location of the report. Based on comments made by various Ministers over the past few weeks, Halpin outlines that who is currently in possession of the report is unclear along with the reasons behind the delay of examination, publication and progression of the report recommendations.
Halpin states that communication with Minister Donnelly has proven “futile”. As the Ministerial Representative, a clear reporting relationship between Halpin and the Minister for Health was agreed, as well as a clear communication channel for concerns relating to the committee.
The confusion and what Noah perceives as an unwillingness to uphold their own commitment is resulting in trans lives, both young and old, being left at risk.
Halpin details the current healthcare experienced by trans children, adolescents and adults across Ireland:
“As a direct result of the Department of Health not upholding the previously agreed timeline of review, publication and action with regard to this report, there is now significant uncertainty surrounding the continuation of care provided to children and adolescents going forward.
“The uncertainty of the future of the relationship between the HSE and the UK based clinic which are the only service treating young transgender people in Ireland at Crumlin Children’s Hospital under the Treatment Abroad Scheme means that young patients and their families are now living with complete ambiguity and uncertainty and the potential risk to life is increased.
“It is to my own knowledge that the uncertainty of this service continuation is as a result of conflict arisen by an Ireland based mental health agency involved in the care of transgender adults in Ireland.
“This situation was entirely avoidable provided the Department of Health had abided by the previously agreed process and timeline set by the Minister for Health with regard to action following the recommendations of the committee.
“Additionally, the misplacement, delay and inaction on the report’s recommendations has also contributed to the deterioration of certain aspects of the healthcare service for transgender adults at The National Gender Service located at St Colmcilles Hospital, Loughlinstown. Including but not limited to; the continuation of the outdated, non-evidential based psychiatric assessment process and the grossly inappropriate questions asked at aforementioned assessments.”
Halpin is calling on Minister Donnelly to make contact with him and to respond to all the various other committee members who have also attempted to make contact on this matter.
“We, as a community also call on Minister Donnelly and the Department of Health to investigate the whereabouts of this most important document and to review, publish and act on the report recommendations as a matter of urgency.
“To ensure that the already dire healthcare system for transgender people in Ireland does not continue to decline at the alarmingly rapid rate that it currently is as a result of the negligence of the Department of Health in following through on their own commitments to not just the committee appointed by them but to the transgender community of Ireland who are suffering as a result of little to no access to the healthcare that we need to survive. No more lives needlessly lost, we need government action now more than ever.”
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