Trans woman calls off hunger strike protest at Nottinghamshire PCT’s refusal to fund meds and surgery

May 13, 2009

Debbie DaviesIt’s nearly a year since I wrote (link here) of the dreadful experience that Debbie Davies was going through at the hands of Nottinghamshire County PCT. The Trust had denied access to meds and surgery to Ms Davies on the grounds that it does not fund such things for patients requiring so-called ‘gender reassignment’, even though it will fund any psychological support required.

In other words, although it won’t prescribe the hormones you need for your transition, it will let you have the antidepressants you will surely need in the wake of such a refusal.

Last week, Ms Davies began a hunger strike in protest at the PCT’s policy. Needless to say, it provoked an almost immediate buck-passing non-apology from the authority – but no immediate practical resolution.

“We are sorry and concerned to hear Debbie is on hunger strike.”

“We have offered to meet with Debbie and we would prefer to resolve this through communication.”

“We’ve asked for a review across the whole of the East Midlands.”

“We have a body of clinical experts who are reviewing in detail the way in which we treat people who want gender reassignment – we are keen to have a consistent approach.”

However, although telling a trans woman on hunger strike that the outcome of a detailed review of “the way in which we treat people who want gender reassignment” is expected by the end of the month seems to me to be an unhelpful response; fortunately for the PCT, Ms Davies views it differently.

“I’ve been assured that they will fund and support me through the hormone treatment.”

“Subject to the reviews that they are carrying out in June, all I can say at the moment is the outcome looks very positive.”

“I can honestly say, for the first time in two-and-a-half years, that I feel very, very reassured.”

(Via the BBC News website)

Handing a metaphorical cookie to Ms Davies for calling off her protest and sparing the PCT the embarrassment of Ms Davies’ likely death by starvation, Amanda Sullivan of Nottinghamshire County PCT has said that Ms Davies would now be given a part to play in the review.

“When we became aware the policy was being reviewed we had some correspondence with Debbie.”

“We have given Debbie the opportunity to have her views heard and influence the outcome of the review.”

What a shame she had to begin a hunger strike to get even that small a compromise from the Trust. How Ms Sullivan and her colleagues on the Nottinghamshire County PCT can sleep at night is beyond my comprehension.

I wish Ms Davies all the luck in the world; her experience has self-evidently been truly awful. However – and I know this is just my own pessimism showing through – if I were in Ms Davies’ shoes, I would take nothing for granted until I had a legally-binding document from the PCT in my hand; perhaps a prescription – or maybe even a surgeon’s letter confirming the date of my surgery.

Call me a cynic, but being given only the “opportunity to have her views heard” seems a very long way removed from actually receiving the necessary medical treatments. However, undoubtedly time will tell – and for Ms Davies’ sake, I hope my doubts about the sincerity of the PCT are proved wrong.

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One Response to “Trans woman calls off hunger strike protest at Nottinghamshire PCT’s refusal to fund meds and surgery”

  1. Foibey Says:

    I agree with your cynicism but having seen how slowly the NHS operate in the case of unusual emergencies I wouldn’t put any money on her surviving it.

    Someone I know ended up being put through 3 weeks of hospital and a general anaesthetic once because noone managed to pull their finger out of their arse in the 40mins-1hour that it takes to deal with an emergency she had. The ambulance took half an hour, the hospital ignored the pre-warning phone call to get the equipment ready so an incredibly simple procedure could be done on arrival to avoid spending ages in hospital and then to add injury to pain in the arse life-risking surgery, 4 hours later one of the on call docs assaulted her futilely (but causing a great deal of pain and distress) trying to do what needed to be done much much earlier.

    A random bit of head trauma or a heart attack? The NHS can face that. Something the NHS doesn’t normally think of as an emergency? Ms Davies would have starved to death. If they have no intention of giving her proper treatment this is doubly the case.


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