The British Medical Association (BMA) has welcomed a new decision allowing specialist GPs in Wales to prescribe hormone therapy to transgender patients, however it has criticised the delay in implementing the initiative.
The new Welsh Gender Team, which will be operational next month, will initially prescribe treatment for patients in the Cardiff and Vale area who have experienced difficulty in accessing the medicines recommended for them by the London Gender Identity Clinic.
The long-term plan is to develop a network of specialist GPs throughout all Welsh health boards who can prescribe hormone treatment for transgender patients. The Welsh Gender Team will eventually start seeing and assessing patients in Wales without the need for travel to London. However, Welsh patients will still need to travel to hospitals in England for surgery.
Commenting on the decision, Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: “Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in demand for transgender health services in Wales. As part of our commitment to improve health and well-being for all, we have invested £500,000 annually to improve gender identity services in Wales.
“This announcement is a positive step towards the fully integrated service I expect to be in place next year. A specialist team in Wales will reduce both the distance of travel and, over time, the waiting times people in Wales currently experience.’
While BMA Cymru Wales has welcomed this initial service, it criticised the length of time it has taken to implement the initiative. BMA Welsh GPs committee negotiating team member Nimish Shah said: “The announcement is a step in the right direction and while we welcome it, we are disappointed and frustrated that progress has been slow.”