Irish LGBT+ advocates respond to 'appalling' revelations that trans patient referrals were misplaced

Political groups and individuals have called for action following revelations that over 100 trans patient's referrals have been 'misplaced'.

109 trans patient referrals were misplaced
Image: The Gender Spectrum Collection

Commenting on the news that over 100 trans patients of the National Gender Service (NGS) in Loughlinstown Hospital have had their referrals ‘misplaced’, Robert O’Sullivan, Chairperson of the Queer Greens, the Green Party’s LGBT+ group, said:

“Trans people in Ireland have long known how unreliable the National Gender Service in St. Colmcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown is, and how unfit for purpose it is, but this week’s events prove it.

“It’s common knowledge that to access gender-affirming healthcare like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in Ireland, you’ll be looking at a wait of at least 18 months, with many people being on a waiting list for upwards of three years. Now we find out that at least 100 trans people were unknowingly on the wrong list for who knows how long. There is no trust in the healthcare system for trans people, and there’s no reason they should have trust in it, especially now.

“It is easier, and more reliable, for trans people to travel to the UK and Europe for essential healthcare than it is to access what should be a straightforward service.

“Minister Harris and the Department of Health need to radically change the system, including a decentralisation from the Loughlinstown unit. The work that is supposed to be done in the NGS could easily be transferred to various public endocrinology units around the country, relieving the several year logjams and reducing costs for both the trans people who all have to travel to Dublin regardless of where in the state they live and the costs for the taxpayer.

“The service the NGS provides is a simple one but an essential one for transgender people. Not having access to gender-affirming healthcare can cause lasting damage to a trans person’s mental and physical health. Simply put, they can’t afford to wait three years, even if they are put on the right waiting list.”

BeLonG To Youth Services says it’s appalled at the news. BeLonG To CEO Moninne Griffith said:

“We are deeply saddened and appalled at today’s announcement by the HSE. This failure by the NGS has potentially significant physical, psychological and emotional implications for the affected patients. It also raised concerns for all trans patients on the waiting lists or those currently hoping to be referred to the NGS.”

Senator Fintan Warfield has written to the NGS seeking an explanation and how they plan to rectify the misplacement of trans patient referrals: “Our trans and NB community deserve so much better. Absolutely appalling news.”

Social Democrats Councillor Owen Hanley has said the misplacement of trans patient referrals is a “failure of care for 109 trans people which is completely unacceptable and a breakdown inpatient care.”

Councillor Hanley said: “There would be a massive public outcry if 109 patients were affected by a management failure in other areas, and rightfully so. We should treat this with exactly the same anger and injustice. The healthcare, well-being, mental health, and lives of 109 people have been worsened by the HSE.

“My respect to TENI, This Is Me, and LGBT+ activists who have been rightfully pushing on this to get this issue recognised and get an apology. But this is the least the HSE can do.”

Councillor Hanley continued: “The National Gender Service [should] rectify this situation by putting the affected individuals into spots on the waiting list that would be proportionate to where they would be were they put on it rightfully the first time. There should not be extra pain put on to this by putting people onto the bottom of the list.

“Ultimately, until we see informed and mature trans healthcare in this country that is patient-oriented these sorts failures will continue. The entire LGBT+ community is clear when they demand proper trans healthcare, time for the HSE and political leaders to listen.”

If you are in crisis or need urgent support, you can call the LGBT Helpline on 1890 929 539. You can also contact the Samaritans at 116 123 or Pieta House at 1800 247 247.

TENI’s Gender Identity Family Support Line, for family members of trans people, runs every Sunday from 6pm to 9pm on 01 907 3707.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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