Update from the Welsh Gender Service

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB) has been working on the fight against COVID-19 and unfortunately some of our services and clinics had to be put on hold to protect patients and redeploy staff to alternative areas.

We appreciate that this has been a difficult time for staff and patients and our aim is to provide safe and effective care to our population.

We apologise for the delay in providing an update during these times and we appreciate your patience and thank you for your continued support at this time. 

We want to remind you that the Welsh Gender Service is still available to patients but in an alternative way for the time being.

Due to the government advice regarding social distancing and people remaining at home we are currently unable to offer face-to-face consultations, but we can provide medical and psychological support through remote consultation such as phone or video-calling.

We accept that many people would prefer face-to-face contact, but until social distancing restrictions, introduced to protect both patients and staff, can be relaxed, remote consultation offers an alternative to ensure patients are still able to access the service.

We recognise that remote consultation has limitations and may be particularly difficult for some people. Accepting a remote consultation is optional and you may choose to wait for a face-to-face consultation, but unfortunately, we are unable to say when this will be possible as we need to work in line with government and public health advice for the safety of everyone.

If you are waiting for your first appointment with the Welsh Gender Service, your waiting time will unfortunately be extended due to the impact of COVID-19 on services.

We are sure you will appreciate that this has been completely out of our control, and we will be working to minimize any further delays to the waiting times as much as we possibly can.

We are also aware that some people may have had difficulty getting an appointment with a GP at the moment, but many GPs are now able to conduct telephone or video consultations and are still open to provide care for patients.

If you have not yet been referred to the WGS by your GP, you should still be able to request this in most circumstances, but if you are concerned, please contact XIST staff who can guide and support you through the process.

During this time, we have been contacting people we have seen to make sure they are getting access to what they need, including treatment, blood monitoring and therapy if required.

We want to make sure that anyone who started treatment can continue to do so in the safest way possible, therefore we have been working closely with Local Health Boards, Local Gender Teams and GPs to make sure support and treatment is available.

Therapy appointments, if required, for those who have already had an initial appointment at the Cardiff Clinic have continued by phone.  This has been a great opportunity to speak to more people and offer more appointments at such a difficult time.

We have also recruited into the vacant Gender Specialist role which will add capacity to increase the number of appointments we can offer as soon as we are able.

Technology has become increasingly important in almost every aspect of life since COVID-19 hit, and health services have been no different.

Although technological methods can be great, we also want to make sure they are safe and secure for everyone to use.  That is why we are currently testing a new secure platform being developed for the NHS.  We hope that this will increase capacity, reduce travel time and costs and allow for more appointments to take place going forward.

We are currently using video-calling for follow-up appointments but want to extend this to initial appointments as soon as we are confident that we have a safe and user-friendly way to do so.  Again, we appreciate your patience while we make sure we get this right.

XIST staff at Umbrella Cymru have been contacting as many people as possible to offer immediate support during lockdown and they are continuing to offer support by phone, video-call, instant messaging, and a new live chat feature running on both websites.

We are also recruiting additional staff to the team to increase the number of people we can contact and support while in lockdown and for as long as we can beyond it.

If you would like to discuss clinical matters, you can contact the clinic directly:

Email:              cav.wgs_enquiries@wales.nhs.uk

Phone:             02921 836 612 (Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm)

If you would like to discuss support in relation to a referral to the WGS, would like support whilst on the waiting list, or feel you need some additional support at this time, you can contact XIST staff at Umbrella Cymru by:

Phone:             0300 302 3670 (Mon-Fri – 10.30am – 7pm)

Text:                 07520 645 700

Email:               xist@gender.wales

Live Chat:        www.gender.wales (Mon-Fri – 1-10pm, Sat-Sun – 1-8pm)

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