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'Devastating': Trans people on wrong waiting list for years after referrals were 'misplaced'

Over 100 people were affected by the HSE’s error.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Andrei_R

PEOPLE WAITING FOR transgender healthcare spent up to three years on the wrong waiting lists after the HSE “misplaced” their referrals.

The National Gender Service (NGS) at St Colmcille’s Hospital in Dublin, which runs transgender healthcare for the HSE, has confirmed that 109 patient referrals which should have been placed on its own waiting list were misplaced on other waiting lists.

The Transgender Equality Network Ireland (Teni) said some patients have been on incorrect lists for up to three years, “waiting on an appointment, without any communication or notification from the NGS”.

A spokesperson for Teni said the group is “shocked and disappointed at this disregard for patients”.

“This will have a devastating impact on our community. It is a breach of trust. Our community told us that they were waiting too long, that their referrals were lost in the system and that they were not being kept informed.

“We knew that these concerns were valid. Now the National Gender Service has finally admitted that their system has failed us.”

Teni has consistently raised concerns about long waiting lists; most transgender people have to wait for over a year, and some over three years, to get their first appointment with the NGS.

Trans people experience a higher incidence of negative mental health outcomes than the general population. Poor mental health in our community is often exacerbated by the lack of appropriate gender-affirming health services.

“Trans people deserve accessible and timely healthcare; care that is person-centred and based on international best practice,” the spokesperson said.

Teni held a meeting with NGS representatives on Monday to discuss how to help those affected and ensure the same issue does not happen again. Patients were informed of the error yesterday.

In a statement issued today, the NGS confirmed that it recently conducted “a full review” of its service, including its referral processes. As a result of the review, the organisation “identified a group of people who should have been seen for their initial visit by now, but have not received an appointment date”.

These people were on a waiting list but due to a processing error they were not allocated appointments as intended. We are aware of 109 people who have been affected by this delay.

A NGS spokesperson said that all the people identified in the review were yesterday sent a letter informing them of the situation. Thay added that affected people “will be reinstated into the correct position on the waiting list”.

Case manager

Each person will also be assigned a case manager and “can expect a call from their assigned case manager” over the next four to six weeks.

“The case manager will answer any questions the affected person might have and help them to get the appointment and support they need,” the spokesperson said. 

They added that the NGS is confident the review “identified the majority of those affected”, but anyone who believes they were impacted but have not yet been contacted should call 01 211 5045 or email nationalgenderservice@hse.ie.

“We apologise to those affected by this discovery, their families, and the transgender community in Ireland,” the spokesperson said, adding: “We are now confident that this issue has being fully resolved and will not be repeated.”

BeLonG To, which supports young members of the LGBTI+ community, said it is “appalled” by today’s announcement.

CEO Moninne Griffith said: “We are deeply upset and appalled by 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 raises concerns for all trans patients on the waiting lists or those currently hoping to be referred to the NGS.”

Griffith added that the development is “further evidence that transgender patients in Ireland continue to be denied the adequate healthcare they require”.

If you 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.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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