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Gender service launched to support GP patients in Wales



The new Welsh Gender Service will start seeing patients in September, the Welsh Government has announced.

The service will comprise of a multidisciplinary gender team, local gender teams in each health board and DES to strengthen the support within primary care.

Health and social services minister Vaughan Gething also announced that the first patients, who will attend St David’s Hospital in Cardiff, form part of an incremental implementation of the new service.

The gender team’s initial period of engagement will take place throughout July and August, alongside notable stakeholders as well as the All Wales Gender Identity Partnership Board, with an aim of ‘meeting the needs of Wales’ trans community’.

Mr Gething said: ‘Establishing the new Welsh Gender Service is the first step in enabling people to access services closer to home.

‘We are committed to continue to engage with our stakeholders as the new service evolves.’

This news comes a fortnight after the RCGP called for a whole-system approach to improving NHS care for trans patients. The College’s Council meeting included the recommendations that the GP curriculum covers gender dysphoria and trans health issues, and that the principles of oversight and regulation applied by the CQC in England and equivalent body in Wales apply to all providers of gender identity services, not just those from the NHS. 

At the time, RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard commented: ‘This is an important area of medicine, and one for which GPs need greater clarity from regulators on where they stand.

‘There is also a distinct lack of high-quality research in the area, and a lack of reputable clinical guidance available – particularly in respect to gender-questioning children – and addressing this must be a priority.’

The Welsh Government has had an ongoing focus on gender identity healthcare. In 2017, Mr Gething acknowledged the ‘increase in demand’ for transgender health services in Wales over recent years, although local GPs subsequently expressed frustration at the delays in clear progress on the issue. 

In 2016, a row broke out between the GP Committee and GMC over GPs’ concerns that they were being forced to prescribe to gender dysphoria patients, without the necessary expertise. The GPC’s response was to advise GPs to ignore GMC guidance on the matter. 

Meanwhile, so far this year has seen the RCGP dropping their gender dysphoria course due to ‘unrealistic expectations’ on GPs, and health minister Steve Brine warning that transgender patients may be missing out on cancer screenings due to how they are registered.

Further information is due to be released on the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee and Cardiff & Vale University Health Board websites in due course.