01/07/2016 07:30 BST | Updated 01/07/2017 06:12 BST

Private vs NHS Treatment - The Conflict for Trans Patients

The issues around excessive waiting times for transgender patients to be seen on the NHS have been widely publicised. Waiting times of up to a year and more have led many desperate people to take affirmative action, seeking expert support through private clinics.

This interim approach empowers the patient who is finally able to take charge of their situation until such time that they receive access to treatment that they are legally entitled to via the NHS - indeed, many patients continue to supplement their NHS treatment with private care.

But some senior practitioners within the NHS are threatening to withdraw treatment if the patient continues to seek support privately, causing uncertainty and adding to the significant distress which these patients are already suffering.

The BMA and the NHS have very clear guidelines on allowing people to get the care that they want from both private sources and from the NHS, as outlined in the following documents

The conclusion being that nobody should be penalised if they supplement their NHS care with private care, nor should they lose their place on the waiting list, or be given reduced care on the NHS, because of their private care.

Through my online clinic, I have had numerous patients relay accounts of threats to withdraw treatment by the NHS if they continue with their private treatment.

I believe that there needs to be clearer guidance on the rules and that, if it is agreed that the NHS can be supplemented by legitimate private care (as suggested in the documents outlined above) then all those operating within the NHS must comply with this approved treatment protocol - rather than individuals being able to arbitrarily decide that the patient will be penalised for taking control of their situation.

Without this guidance, transgender patients will continue to suffer further discrimination which is contrary to the care ethos of the NHS.