How Healthwatch helped Hertfordshire’s transgender community get the support they need
When they heard that there were no transgender specific health services available in the area, Healthwatch Hertfordshire and partners worked together to do something about it.
For the last few years, Healthwatch Hertfordshire, the County Council and NHS Hertfordshire have been working together to address the gap in services for transgender people. A survey conducted by charity Viewpoint found that there was just one support group for this community, that people wanted better information about the help available, and that many faced long waits for appointments at the Gender Identity Clinic in London.
Viewpoint made 22 recommendations to improve the health and wellbeing of transgender people in Hertfordshire, which Healthwatch and partners have been working to put in place.
They’ve formed a local trans implementation group, including two Clinical Commissioning Groups, the council, mental health and acute trusts, charities, community groups, and members of the trans community.
Healthwatch Hertfordshire talked us through the progress they’ve made so far.
Support for young people
Hertfordshire County Council has trained Youth Connexions Staff working in schools and colleges around the county to support groups for young people. Students can come to these groups to discuss any problems they’re having, to gain advice, and to gain support from their peers.
Better trans-awareness amongst professionals
Supported by a local charity, transgender people in Hertfordshire now offer awareness sessions to health and social care professionals to boost their understanding of their needs.
This is already having a really positive effect and there’s been a huge demand for the sessions and for more information about experiences of the transgender community. For example, individuals have been asked about the County’s new accommodation plans for the elderly to ensure they would meet everybody’s needs.
- Local people share their experience of using gender identity services
- Local Healthwatch improve advocacy for transgender people
More information for staff
A policy that sets out how staff should support transgender people when using their services is now in place, developed by Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. They are also producing a sexual health and gender identity guide for people working in children’s and young people’s mental health and emotional well-being settings.
More detailed guidance for GPs about how to work with transgender people, as well as awareness sessions are being offered in Hertfordshire.
Raising issues at a national level
In addition to making a difference locally, together with other local Healthwatch we’ve shared people’s experiences of transgender services with NHS England and those responsible for commissioning services nationally.
There is a real willingness amongst health and social care services in Hertfordshire to work together to make sure people can access the care they need. There is more to be done and we look forward to working together to keep improving the care available, and to understand what more support people need.
Do you face problems accessing gender identity services in your area?
If you are facing problems accessing gender identity services in your area, please contact your local Healthwatch.