Nearly two million Britons could question their gender in the coming years, leading to demand for NHS health services to accelerate, a health boss has said.
James Palmer, the medical director for specialised services at NHS England, said in the future he expected up to 3% of the population would make contact with transgender health services at some point in their lives.
He warned that the expansion and improvement of NHS services could cause the growth in demand to accelerate.
“We’ve got to be prepared to start thinking about designing a healthcare service that will allow somewhere around 1% to 3% of the population at some point in their lives having a discussion about their gender,” Palmer was quoted in the Telegraph as saying.
Based on current population estimates, this would mean 1.97m people in the UK using gender identity services, with around 1.6m of these living in England.
Palmer said referrals to adult services have increased by 240% over the last five years.
“There are currently 7,500 adults waiting for an appointment with our services. No other specialist service has seen this growth, anywhere near. As a result there is absolutely not sufficient capacity in the system,” he warned.
He added the growth was a good thing, saying: “It’s got to be a good thing is that there are people out there that want to explore their gender. The fact that it’s in the younger age group has got to be a good thing.”
Dr Polly Carmichael, clinical director of the gender identity development service at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which treats children and young people, said the organisation had experienced a 100% increase in referrals between 2015 and 2016.