Meeting demand for our Gender Identity Development Service
29 July 2016
Since the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) was nationally designated in 2009 we have consistently seen referrals within the agreed 18 week NHS standard maximum wait time, despite a year on year 50% increase in referrals. However last year we had an unpredictable and unprecedented 100% increase in referrals and from September 2015 our wait times for first appointments began to increase. Currently wait times are around 36 weeks; we are working closely with NHS England to reduce these waiting times.
To this end NHS England has increased funding for the service and we have been busy employing new staff. We have recruited 22 new members of staff across London and Leeds, in addition to a further 12 recently appointed. We will also be increasing our administrative capacity to manage the increase in referrals.
Other work includes developing tailored training for new members of staff. Professional groups are actively working on developing training for professionals who are keen to specialise in this area, but in the meantime new clinical staff in all gender services need to train in post. This means that time is required not only to employ new staff, but also to train them. We have developed a new programme of in-house training for new staff who will also be individually supported by experienced clinicians. This will increase capacity within the service.
Other work includes looking at offering group appointments for new referrals, to share information and provide more immediate support for young people and their families. Many young people who attend the service are already attending their local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). We are happy to liaise with CAMHS and will use any assessment work that has already taken place.
It’s important to say also, that every case is different, and therefore it’s difficult to give an ‘average’ wait time. We appreciate that it is frustrating for young people and their families, but every young person’s circumstances differ. Young people are referred to the service at different ages and stay with the service for different lengths of time and it’s often difficult to predict in advance how much support from the service will be required. In addition there are waits for adult services which mean it is difficult to predict when referrals to adult gender services will be seen and closed to our service.
We are grateful to our commissioners for their continued support for the service, to our immensely dedicated staff for their incredibly hard work in this busy period and to patients for bearing with us while we do all we can to bring our waiting times back down and endeavour to give our patients the best possible care.