Several reports have been made that Chalmers (Scotland) and Brackenburn (Northern Ireland) GICs have been sending out letters to people who have been on the waitlist for several years, asking them to confirm they still want to be seen by the GIC. This is similar to actions taken by the Charing Cross aka Adult Tavistock GIC earlier this year.
In the case of Brackenburn, there is a reference on the letters our sources recieved to a previous letter having been sent out regarding this, despite the recipients reporting having only recieved one.
Chalmers did send two letters, but due to the current postal delays both letters were not recieved until after the deadlines given on them.
It is deeply concerning that both clinics are giving such tight deadlines to patients who have been waiting years for a first appointment, especially considering delays due to postal strikes and the upcoming holiday period. We are also concerned at reports that some patients have struggled to get in contact with either GICs via phonecall or receive any response to emails, meaning that they have not had any confirmation that their request to remain on the list has been honoured.
Brackenburn does not advertise how long its waitlist is, but a recent FOI response from the trust suggests people currently being seen have been waiting for 58 months. From January 2018 to April 2022, Brackenburn only offered 118 appointments at the adult GIC in total. In the same time 52 month period, there were an average of new referrals of around 130 per year, exceeding the total number of patients seen over several years, with the waiting list length growing steadily to 614 in April 2022.
Chalmers reports that people currently being seen by them have been waiting for 40 months.
We received the following statement from Belfast Trust:
Belfast Trust was conducting a waiting list review and wrote to those on the list requesting that they make contact with the service if they would like to remain on it. The first letter that should have been sent gives the individual a two week window to respond. If no response is received a further letter is sent asking for contact within 7 days, and this letter also states that failure to contact the service will result in discharge.
We regret the second letter was sent first. The service became aware of this administrative error on Monday and have issued an apology letter. We sincerely apologise for any distress this may have caused.
We have had no response so far from Chalmers GIC.
Trans Safety Network note that even aside from this administrative error this suggests the trust only provided for a 3 week window to respond before discharging patients from the service, nearing the Christmas period, with widespread postal strikes underway.
We are concerned that once again the GICs may be attempting to reduce their spiralling waiting lists by removing trans people who are in need of care and have waited for several years. Whilst the letters from Chalmers suggested that the people receiving it may be near the top of the waiting list, the letters from Brackenburn makes no such indication.
We note that a similar incident occured at the Tavistock and Portman Trust GIC, blamed on a miscommunication or administrative error, and we hope that users will have an appropriate amount of time to respond to this, factoring in delays in post. We also hope that these letters are only sent when anticipating someone will be seen by the service within the next few months.