I received a letter back in December from the CQC regarding my “experience of receiving care and treatment at the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic”. This was my response.
I’d like to tell you about my experience of Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic. I was referred to them early in 2014. I heard nothing for months and phoned the clinic a couple of times to make sure that they had received my referral. I finally had my first assessment (with Dr. Lenihan) in December of that year – about a 9-10 months wait.
After seeing her, on my way out I made an appointment for my second assessment in May 2015 with Dr. Lorimer. At the time, given how long I had waited for my first appointment, I thought a mere five month wait wasn’t too bad!
However, a few weeks before the date I received a phone call from the clinic telling me that the doctor was unavailable due to a holiday and they would have to cancel my appointment. It’s difficult to express just how crushing a blow this was. I had expectations of finally getting approval for the treatment that would allow me to move forward with my life and for that to be taken away from me was devastating.It triggered months of severe depression, affecting my physical health, my work and the relationship with my wife. Things only started to improve after I finally received a letter giving me a new date to see Dr Lorimer, on January 15th (last Friday).
So, I turned up at the clinic (45 minuted early because of the vaguaries of public transport into London) only to be told that I didn’t have an appointment: hadn’t I gotten the message the week before telling me that it had been cancelled (again!).
Obviously I hadn’t got the message; there’s no way I’d endure the travel into London just for fun! I don’t think it’s acceptable to simply leave a voicemail with no guarantee that it will be picked up. For me communication by letter or email would be better (I have anxiety issues using the phone and don’t pick up calls where the number is withheld or unknown to me; I also do not answer calls during work hours).
Anyway, I’m currently here, over 13 months since my first assessment, fighting depression again with no end in sight for this limbo I find myself in. Given what I was told by the admin staff about Dr. Lorimer’s health problems I really can’t see at the moment that I’ll ever progress to the point where I can begin to receive treatment (HRT, surgery). All this waiting is beyond unreasonable.
I don’t think the woefully inadequate level of service provision for trans people is in any way acceptable. In what other sector of the health service would such waiting times be remotely acceptable, especially given the hugely detrimental effect it has on people’s well-being and quality of life?
Alex Forshaw (Ms.)