Bim Afolami: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for NHS under-18s gender dysphoria clinics.
Stephen Barclay: NHS England has publicly acknowledged that the waiting time for under-18s accessing gender identity services is unacceptably long. NHS England increased funding for this service by around £2 million per year from 2016/17 but waiting times have continued to increase due mainly to an unprecedented increase in demand for these services in recent years, to an extent that there is not sufficient capacity in the current service.
In 2018, NHS England established a Programme Board for Gender Identity Services. Its terms of reference state that the Board’s main objective is to make recommendations for the future delivery and configuration of specialised services for adults, young people and children, with a view to achieving the optimal models of care that are characterised by timely and equitable access to the range of available interventions; consistent delivery models and excellent care and excellent patient experience.
The role of the Board is to coordinate ‘demand and capacity’ planning that will inform the future delivery of specialised services and resource allocation for adult services and young people’s services; and that will inform an approach to commissioning that seeks to ensure the sustainability of the national service.
NHS England is currently working with the providers of the services, and other significant stakeholders, to develop proposals for the future commissioning and delivery of these services from 2019/20.