Transgender patients face three-year wait at Devon’s gender identity clinic

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Patient numbers have nearly doubled and some have been waiting more than three years for an appointment at Devon’s transgender health clinic, new figures reveal.

The Laurels, Devon’s gender identity clinic in Exeter, now has 1,723 people on its waiting list for an appointment.

This is almost double the number of patients who were waiting two years ago, according to DevonLive, which obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information request.

The Laurels is one of seven gender identity clinics (GIC) in England.

Waiting times for an appointment at a GIC are often two years or longer, despite the NHS recommending that GIC’s meet an 18-week target for a first appointment.

The longest someone has been waiting for an appointment at the Laurels is 1,280 days – 182 weeks, or 10 times the NHS requirement.

The number of patients at The Laurels has sharply increased, from 21 in 2007 to 717 referrals in 2018. From January to March 2019 there were 130 referrals.

The 2018 referrals were made up of 383 men, 322 women, 10 non-binary people and two people who categorised their gender as “undefined.” The largest age group of patients was 17- to 24-year-olds.

Because there are so few GIC’s and patients have the right to choose which they are referred to, only 40 of last years referrals to The Laurels came from Devon.

Transgender people face “soul-destroying” waits for appointments

Two years ago, DevonLive reported that calls for The Laurels to stop taking on new patients were being ignored.

The Devon Partnership Trust, which runs The Laurels, had been requested to put a moratorium on new referrals in 2017 because there were fears that high patient numbers meant more trans patients were being accepted at The Laurels than could be safely treated.

Patient numbers for 2017 weren’t available but as of September 2016 there were 580 people on the waiting list for The Laurels, with an average wait for a first appointment of 12 months.

Increasing patient numbers and waiting times for GIC appointments are a national problem, with a 2019 investigation in The Guardian finding that trans patients face “soul-destroying” waits for treatment.