Referral information

Last year Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) took the difficult decision that, effective 23 August 2023, all new referrals and transfers to the Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service (NRGDS) were temporarily paused.

We are pleased to be able to begin accepting new referrals and transfers of care from other adult gender clinics for people aged 17 and over into the service’s waiting list from 10 April 2024.

At this time, transfers of wait to the service from other gender identity clinics remain paused. We will continue to regularly review this decision.

We are continuing to work with our commissioners, NHS England, to explore ways to reduce waiting times for the service.

For more details, please see the frequently asked questions below.

The Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service (NRGDS) is an NHS service for people who experience gender dysphoria. We are based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Our appointments are usually a mixture of face-to-face in the North East of England and remote, online or telephone appointments.

Healthcare professionals
If you are a healthcare professional referring someone to the Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service (NRGDS), please use this referral form for health professionals.

To refer yourself to the Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service (NRGDS) you must:

  • Have a GP who has a surgery in England or Wales
  • Be eligible for treatment on the NHS
  • Be aged 17 years or older (given that they are not offered an appointment with NRGDS until they turn 18)
  • Think that you may experience gender dysphoria

Some people are not sure if they experience gender dysphoria.

Some people are not sure if they want to have medical or psychological treatments to help them to manage their gender dysphoria.

We are happy to consider your self-referral even if you are not sure:

  • if what you are experiencing is gender dysphoria,
  • or if medical or psychological treatments are right for you.

You do not have to refer yourself; you can ask your GP to do it for you if you prefer. If you have already been referred and accepted into NRGDS, you do not need to self-refer.

If you fit the criteria described above and would like to refer yourself to the NRGDS you can do so by completing this self-referral form.

If you’re supporting someone else to self-refer, you may find this easy read consent form useful. You must also complete the self-referral form.

Alternatively, you can contact NRGDS and ask us to post or email you the form. When you have completed the form, please return the form to us in one of the following ways:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Post to NRGDS, Benfield House, Walkergate Park Hospital, Benfield Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 4QD
  • Drop off a paper copy of the form at NRGDS in person.

We are receiving a lot of referrals at the moment , so there may be a delay in processing your referral. However, if you have not heard back from us within six weeks and want to check we have received it, please contact us.

Useful information to have to hand when completing the form
Before you complete the form, you will need to gather some information to help you.
You will need:

  • The surgery name and address of your GP
  • Your contact details including phone numbers and email address
  • Your NHS number (optional, but it really helps us if you can send it)

Please make sure that your contact details are correct.

Frequently asked questions

These FAQs will be regularly updated, and were last updated on 10 May 2024

Is the NRGDS closing?

No, the NRGDS is not closing. Referrals to our waiting list were temporarily paused from August 2023 – February 2024, but new referrals and transfers of care are being accepted again from 10 April 2024.

Why were referrals paused from August 2023 – February 2024?

Referrals to the Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service (NRGDS) have increased significantly year-on-year, with the service struggling to respond to increases in demand and blockages in the pathway. This has resulted in extremely long waiting times for people to be seen.

Over recent years NRGDS have worked closely with NHS England to develop new roles in line with service development. This includes recruiting peer support workers which allows service users access to support whilst awaiting treatment.

We want to ensure that our future service users will not have to wait as long as they do now to be seen by one of our team members. We needed to pause new referrals into the service so waiting lists did not continue to increase, while we worked with our partners on the future development needs of the service and ensure we maintain our standards for access to responsive services from a quality and safety perspective.

While new referrals were paused, the NRGDS remained open to support our existing service users and those already accepted onto the waiting list. Though this situation was far from ideal, taking this action was necessary to work towards finding solutions to develop an improved and sustainable service.

We continue to work with NHS England to explore ways to reduce waiting times for the service.

How much had demand for the service increased before you paused referrals?

Demand had continued to rise, with an increase in referrals meaning around 50 people per month were referred to the service, with around 40 of those people accepted into the service (average between January 2022 and April 2023). This meant the service accepted around 480 people in a 12-month period.

National changes in young people’s gender services also meant that NRGDS has received a substantial number of new referrals.

You can find up-to-date information on our waiting times on our website.

What has changed to enable NRGDS to allow new referrals again? What are you doing to reduce waiting times?

Following ongoing discussions with NHS England, who commission and fund this service, we have agreed some new ways of working to help us improve how people ‘flow’ through the pathway of gender dysphoria services.

This has included:
Reviewing how referrals/transfer from different places move onto our waiting list, to try and make waits more equitable: there is more information on our waiting times webpage about how transfers of care from GIDS have affected our waiting times, and how we are making changes to this process.

Increased staff capacity: Over the past several months, we have been able to increase the number of staff working at NRGDS, which will enable us to assess and treat more people. This increase is due to a combination of recruiting some new staff, and several existing staff completing training which allows them to expand their role.We hope these changes will allow us to see more people, improve the service, and continue to work towards reducing waiting times.

Future plans
We are pleased to be in a position to start accepting referrals again, but the work to improve our waiting times has only just begun. We are continuing to explore different ways of working, and have discussions with NHS England, to enable us to see, assess and provide treatment for more people. These include exploring how we can best support people who are awaiting surgery while also increasing capacity to allow us to do more assessments, and reviewing training and staffing in the service.

What are the current waiting times for new referrals?

You can find up-to-date information on our waiting times on our website.

While referrals were paused, I was referred to another adult gender dysphoria service. Can I now be transferred to the NRGDS waiting list?

You can transfer your care to NRGDS from another adult gender clinic, although you are unable to transfer your wait time if you are not in treatment. Meaning you would join our service as a routine referral.

I am currently receiving care and treatment from another adult gender dysphoria service. Can I now be transferred to NRGDS?

Yes, you can request to transfer your care to NRGDS from another adult gender clinic.

I was referred/tried to refer myself to NRGDS between 23 August 2023 – 26 February 2024, while referrals were paused, so my referral was not accepted. Can I have my referral backdated to that point?

No, we are not able to backdate referrals in this case.

Are current service users still receiving the same level of support from NRGDS?

Yes. Throughout the pause to referrals, and now that referrals are re-opened, those people who were already on the waiting list or being seen by the service have received the same services and support, as they usually would.

Have you consulted transgender people about these decisions?

Unfortunately, we were not able to consult with transgender people about pausing referrals last year. As a Trust we would usually consult with service users about decisions we make. However, this was not possible on this occasion. The decision to pause referrals, and its impacts, was carefully considered, but this was driven by the need to maintain safety and quality for service users.

We held workshops and gave presentations to involve service users in our preparations to re-open referrals.

Members of staff at NRGDS also regularly meet with third second organisations and other partners who support the transgender and LGBTQIA+ community, to keep them informed of changes and work going on to improve the service.