Healthcare

UK coroner urges shorter NHS wait times after a trans woman’s death

When Armanih Lewis-Daniel, a 24-year-old Black trans woman residing in East London, tragically took her own life in March 2021, her mother demanded justice from the system that had failed her. At the time of her death, Armanih had spent over two and a half years on the NHS waiting list for a gender identity clinic. Now the coroner has completed an inquest and it warns of future deaths resulting from extensive wait times.

According to the inquest, Angela Lewis-Campbell described her daughter Amarnih as “kind-hearted, protective and fiercely loving.”

“She knew what it was like to be bullied, and, because of this, she did everything within her power to ensure that others did not have to feel the way she did,” she added.

Angela characterized her daughter’s lifelong struggle with mental health as “walking along the branch of a tree. She felt strong and stable until at some point she simply could not take it anymore and she snapped.”

Specifically, Coroner Nadia Persaud identified “a constellation of mental health difficulties, including mixed anxiety and depression, and emotionally unstable personality disorder.” In addition, Armanih had spent nearly two years awaiting an assessment for autism spectrum disorder and over two and half years for an appointment with a gender identity clinic. The NHS confirmed that wait times for gender identity services average seven years.

“What was going on?” Armanih’s mother asked the court at a pre-inquest review, according to the Barking & Dagenham Post. “I was there at most of those appointments, and when the referral was done, the assessment hadn’t taken place. It was just left hanging in the system.”

Now the coroner has ruled that “the delay in accessing specialist treatment intensified Armanih’s distress.”

According to The Evening Standard, Persaud added, “There was a lack of clarity as to who is responsible for the wellbeing of the patient during the waiting period, for any distress caused by the gender dysphoria. Local mental health services have very little specialist knowledge as to how best to support a person suffering from Gender Identity Dysphoria.”

The inquest has now issued a report to Prevent Future Deaths to NHS England, saying “a waiting list of 7 years for an appointment at the Gender Identity Clinic is extremely long and exposes the challenge of how those are on the waiting list are to be supported.”

“Had Armanih survived, it is likely that she would still be awaiting an appointment,” the inquest read.

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