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*CONTENT WARNING*- SUICIDE
Whatever our gender, most of us believe that everyone should get the healthcare they need. But today, too many of us have the experience of being stuck on NHS waiting lists.
Alice Litman was a 20-year-old woman, a sister and daughter in a loving family, who died by suicide in May 2022. Alice’s family describe her as a kind and loving person with a vivid imagination; she had a knack for bringing people together.
Alice’s family believes her death was partly a result of not getting the care she needed, because she was transgender. While many of us who need care at the moment are having to wait many months to be seen by medical professionals, transgender people who need gender-affirming care are waiting as long as five or six years. NHS England has a duty to see 92% of trans patients referred for specialist healthcare within 18 weeks (126 days) but at the time of her death, Alice had been on an NHS waitlist for nearly 3 years. Alice’s family feel that this long wait may have been too much for her to bear.
Good Law Project is supporting Alice’s family as they campaign to include the long waiting times for healthcare as a factor in her death. The inquest into Alice’s death – where the causes of her death will be examined – has been scheduled to take place between 18-20 September 2023. The waiting times faced by young people for the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) and adults for Gender Dysphoria Clinics (GDCs, previously GICs) will be considered by the coroner carrying out the inquest. The coroner will also look at the care Alice received from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) before she turned 18.
In a statement following the pre-inquest review hearing, Alice’s family said: “We believe the long waiting lists can leave vulnerable trans people feeling hopeless and as though there is no end in sight.
“We want to live in a world where transgender people do not face threats to their safety, their autonomy, and their happiness. We all deserve to live in dignity with access to the healthcare we need. We are asking NHS England to prevent future deaths by urgently addressing the crisis in trans healthcare.”
Good Law Project has funded Alice’s family’s legal representation because we agree with her parents that the waiting times she faced may have played a role in her death. We are committed to challenging these severe waiting times and other failures in meeting our young people’s healthcare needs.
Last year, we went to the High Court alongside five co-claimants to challenge these waiting times. While the court rejected our challenge, we have now heard that we have permission to appeal this decision.
If you would like to contribute to that case and help us ensure nobody is left without the specialist healthcare they need you can do so here.