Additional support for healthcare professionals referring patients to the Gender Identity Development Service

With the increasing numbers of referrals into the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service for children and young people (GIDS), there is a need to enhance the quality of the referral information being submitted about patients and to help referring clinicians support the additional care needs of children and young people while they wait to be seen by GIDS.

While we await the outcome of Dr Hilary Cass’ independent review into gender identity services for children and young people, NHS England is establishing interim regional professional support services which will bring together specialists from a range of different clinical backgrounds. They will provide expert advice and support to referring clinicians to help them provide high quality information to GIDS and ensure the best care and support to meet patients’ full healthcare needs while they are waiting to be seen. This will be through:

  • early consultation between the regional professional support services and the healthcare professional making a referral
  • liaison and support to the professional network while the patient remains on the waiting list for GIDS (including GPs, children and young people’s mental health services, paediatrics, education services and local authorities)
  • identifying more complex cases that might need more urgent support, in consultation with GIDS, including providing advice to referrers
  • coordination of any additional healthcare support services – including psychosocial and psychological support – according to a patient’s needs
  • coordinated transfer to appropriate adult services where young people are within six months of their 18th birthday.

This change is in line with Dr Cass’ recent update letter to NHS England which also identified the opportunity to enhance the identification, differentiation and support for the needs of those on the waiting list, and will enable GIDS to have better information about a patient’s healthcare needs and how these are being met. This interim service will be reviewed in the light of Dr Cass’ final recommendations.

NHS England expects this service, which will cover the whole country, to take a few months to be established. Until then, an NHS referral management service is being set up to process referrals from primary care and non-NHS providers. This service will ensure that referrals are held securely and confidentially according to date, recorded and checked to include all the necessary information required and give high level advice to GPs and other referrers around what other services they may wish to contact to support their patients. This will free up clinical time in the GIDS, and patients’ waiting time will not be affected by these arrangements if they are accepted on to the GIDS waiting list.

Updated information for referrers will be available on the GIDS website shortly, including when these arrangements become operational.