Health Minister Stephen Donnelly commits to engaging with trans community on healthcare

The Minister said, “We cannot have a situation where we are developing a model of care for a group of people who are not involved and whose voices are not heard."

Stephen Donnelly speaking to reporters. He is photographed from the chest up, and wears a navy suit and glasses. I woman stands behind him at his right shoulder.
Image: X: @DonnellyStephen

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has committed to engaging with the trans community when developing a new model of care in Ireland. The politician made the comments on the morning of Thursday, January 18, in response to a question from Labour Party TD Duncan Smith.

The Minister was asked that he, along with senior people in the HSE, “commit to not only one meeting, but a series of ongoing engagement with the relevant transgender advocacy groups” when developing healthcare services for the community.

In response, Mr Donnelly stated, “Of course I’m happy to meet the stakeholders. I’ve met TENI before and other groups before and of course, I’m happy to meet them.”

He continued: “I am committed to the development of a model of care that delivers proper services for this group of people. It’s a very small group of people, it’s a very vulnerable group of people, and they need to have access to proper, integrated care, acute care, community care, appropriate care, and quite frankly, I think, as we all know in Ireland right now, they don’t have that access.”

Stephen Donnelly added that he is “not satisfied” with the current model of trans healthcare, nor “the pace at which this is progressing”.

Reference was then made to the HSE’s appointment of a new Clinical Lead for Transgender Services, a move for which the organisation has been criticised due to its lack of community input.

Mr Smith noted, “In relation to Trans Healthcare Action, in relation to TENI, they feel they need more engagement, and I believe they do, and it has to be ongoing…So we really need to see that to provide confidence in these groups and confidence in this community that they are being listened to and they are being heard.”


The Health Minister replied that it is both “disappointing” and “very useful” to hear that feedback, and said he would talk to the department and the HSE. He also advised the advocacy groups to do the same.

“We cannot have a situation where we are developing a model of care for a group of people who are not involved and whose voices are not heard. We are trying, it doesn’t always work. We are not always succeeding,” he expressed.

“We are trying to move to a situation where the patient voice is front and centre in everything we do. We’re embedding it in legislation in the Patient Safety Act, we’re doing it through new regulations within the HSE.

“We are not getting it right all the time. It sounds like clearly if that’s how the community is feeling, if they are feeling that they are outside the door and nobody is listening to them, then whatever is happening is clearly not working and needs to be looked at,” Mr Donnelly concluded.

Trans Healthcare Action welcomed the Minister’s commitment to meet with the group, saying, “We want to see an Ireland where all trans people have access to an informed consent model for gender-affirming care based in primary care settings. And we will bring this vision straight to Stephen Donnelly.”


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