Introducing the Gender Identity Workforce project

The Head of Workforce Development at Health Education England (North West London), Vicky Lyons, guest blogs for Will Huxter, to introduce the Gender Identity Workforce project that will begin to address the workforce challenges within gender identity services.

On 20 October I attended the most recent multi-agency symposium that NHS England has convened. The symposiums exist in order to encourage a coordinated, shared approach to improving access to gender identity services, and improving trans-people’s experience of the NHS generally. The symposium was well attended by patient representatives, voluntary groups, professional associations and statutory bodies and workforce and training issues were a main theme throughout the day.

We know that there are pressing workforce issues facing gender identity services, despite the current service being delivered by dedicated and talented staff. Earlier this year parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee delivered a report on Transgender Equality that described these pressures in some detail. It was evident that the challenges laid down by the Committee’s recommendations requires a coordinated response from the various elements of the NHS, other statutory bodies such as Health Education England and the professional associations.

On our part, Health Education England exists as a public body to support the delivery of excellent healthcare and health improvement to the patients and public of England. Our ambition is to provide the right workforce, with the right skills and values, in the right place at the right time to better meet the needs and wants of transgender and non-binary patients – now and in the future.

We had some really good discussions on the day and I was encouraged to learn of the various initiatives that are being pursued by a number of organisations to address workforce challenges for gender identity services. It was great to meet so many stakeholders who will be able to work with us on the workforce agenda. As an outcome of our discussions I am now developing a project plan for a programme of work that will make recommendations for the training and development of the future workforce in this field. It is likely to involve an exploration of:

  • Core competencies for staff working in gender identity services
  • Standards for Continuing Professional Development
  • Training placements within gender identity services
  • Recommendations for general awareness raising

The group agreed that this work should impact on all roles within GIS services and would benefit services nationally.

We plan to start this work by December. It will include engagement with patient groups and people who use gender identity services. The aim is to deliver recommendations in the New Year and Will Huxter will share the work plan in a future blog very soon.

Vicky Lyons

Vicky Lyons is Head of Workforce Development, Health Education North West London (HEENWL).

Vicky has 18 years’ experience working in a variety of roles within the NHS and currently works as the Head of Workforce Development at HEENWL responsible for a wide portfolio of workforce planning activities and transformation initiatives. She has also lead the pan London workforce planning team for Health Education England as part of a shared service providing support to the planning and commissioning responsibilities of London’s LETB’s.

Prior to this, Vicky worked for 14 years working in senior HR roles at East London NHS Foundation Trust. More recently she worked as the Assistant Director of Workforce and Development with responsibility for the ESR/Workforce functions, Recruitment, bank and Training and Development teams.

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  1. Lily says:

    Hi Vicky,

    I wondered if there had been any developments since this blog post regarding the programme for training the workforce that you make reference to?

    I am a third year mental health nursing student currently writing my dissertation on barriers transgender patients face to accessing mental health care. Currently I am writing up my recommendations which, I’m sure you will find as no surprise, includes incorporating education on gender identity into the programmes for undergraduate mental health professionals and mandatory training for qualified staff.

    I would be very interested and grateful if you could provide me with any recent developments which would support my work.

    With many thanks and kind regards,


  2. Alex says:

    Currently, people need to be assessed by at least two consultant psychiatrists, why?

    WPATH SoC doesn’t say anything about the mental health professional conducting the assessment having to be a psychiatrist, never mind a consultant psychiatrist.

    Is there a lack of psychologists or other doctors who are prepared to work in this area? Can’t you rejig the assessment phase?

    Incidentally, until such times as all NHS clinicians have an understanding of gender identity/incongruence/dysphoria, folk who believe they require gender identity services ought to be able to to refer themselves!

    I wouldn’t mention it if there were no shortage of consultant psychiatrists working in gender identity services, but there clearly is – hence the unacceptably long waiting times for an initial assessment.

    • Will Huxter says:

      Dear Alex

      Thanks for your comments. I am responding on Vicky’s behalf as your question relates to NHS England’s protocol.

      The current protocol followed by the Gender Identity Clinics can be found here:

      In line with WPATH guidelines It does not require an assessment by consultant psychiatrists. It requires a diagnosis of gender dysphoria by two clinicians within the specialist team, one of whom must be “medically qualified”.

      New draft service specifications will be published for the purpose of consultation in early 2017 and I understand that the proposed new version will remain consistent with WPATH in this regard.

      I have passed your comments on workforce matters to Vicky Lyons.

      Kind regards

      Will Huxter

  3. Dr Bryan Timmins says:

    Hi Vicky
    The need for practical immediate GP training and especially the opportunity for GPs to spend sessional time in the GIC to understand the problems facing service users and the clinics would be something I strongly support. We are happy to help with providing training and experience for GPs and trainees in PAMS with an interest at Daventry.
    The development of lead GPs in the country is a vital next step in the service pathway.

  4. Jerry Luke says:

    Hi Vicky
    Are you involved in just training for employees of GICs or are you involved in the wider interfaces of GIC/GP/Surgeons?
    There is certainly the opportunity to look at GPSI training for an area that is non-core General Practice

    • Vicky Lyons says:

      Dear Jerry
      Thank you for your post.
      Unfortunately, the organisations representing general practitioners were unable to attend the symposium in October, but our focus will be on the core competencies needed in the gender identity clinics, given the urgent need to address the national workforce shortage.
      Kind regards