About the Service
The Brackenburn Gender Identity clinic provides specialist assessment and support to people above the age of 18 who are experiencing Gender Identity issues.
The service offers a pathway for assessment, treatment and support through psychological, social and physical transition, and also coordinates interventions for people with gender dysphoria who are diagnosed as requiring gender reassignment surgery. Where individuals are approved by the Strategic Performance and Planning Group for gender reassignment surgery, they are currently referred to surgical providers in England as there is no surgical provision in Northern Ireland.
Who provides the service
The Brackenburn clinic is a Regional service based within the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. We aim to provide a holistic approach to gender care and work as a multidisciplinary team.
In terms of staffing, the service is very small. With staff turnover and recruitment issues, the service has limited access to a Gender Specialist consultant and therapist input. Individuals who use the gender clinic also access other services including endocrinology (hormone treatment), speech and language therapy, mental health services and dermatology.
How to access the service
If you are 17.5 years old or older, resident in Northern Ireland and registered with a GP practice in Northern Ireland you can be referred to the Brackenburn clinic. Your referral must come from your GP or other relevant healthcare professional.
We do not ask that a specific referral form is completed, but require a referral letter detailing patient contact information, reason for referral, relevant physical and mental health history and up to date risk assessment if appropriate.
Referrals can be sent via post, CCG or emailed directly to the Brackenburn email- Brackenburnclinic@belfasttrust.hscni.net. This is a confidential e-mail facility.
Please note the following if you have been referred to us:
- We will write to acknowledge your referral and ask that you contact the clinic to confirm your wish to opt in and be added to the waiting list. You must contact us within the stated time frame to be added to our waiting list.
- You must keep us updated about any changes to your address or phone numbers – we are not told by your GP.
- If you do not want letters to be sent to your home address, please ask that this is highlighted by the referrer and provide an e-mail correspondence address to be used instead.
- Once we are able to offer you an appointment we will write to you to ask if you would like to be seen.
Advice to the referrer
Please be advised that it is not possible to provide a timeframe for an initial appointment within the Regional Gender Identity Service. As such if you are making a referral into the clinic you may wish to consider, with the service user involved, whether or not they will require additional support in the interim.
Service waiting times
Demand for the service has increased significantly over recent years and, this has led to long waiting times. We are currently seeing people referred up to October 2017. This is longer than we would like and we are working to reduce the waiting times. We are no longer giving out waiting list position numbers as these are subject to change.
We do not prioritise access – we see people based on the date of their referral to us. There are a few exceptions to this:
- People who have been discharged from our service on the understanding they can resume treatment if referred again.
- People who are transferred from the adolescent KOI (Knowing Our Identity) Service or from another NHS Gender Identity Clinic who have already started critically important clinical treatment will have their treatment continued by our service.
- People referred to us from the adolescent KOI (Knowing Our Identity) Service or from another NHS Gender Identity Clinic who have not received a diagnosis or started critically important treatment will join the waiting list with the date of their referral to KOI.
We cannot predict waiting times because it is dependent on many factors such as:
- How many people are referred
- What staff resources we have available
- What needs people have once in the service (we have infrequent contact with some people, others need more input)
- The rate that people pass through the service (people need to go at a pace that is right for them)
- How long people have to wait for surgeries
If your question relates to waiting times, please do not call the service as we cannot provide any additional information to what is already on this webpage.
Sources of support whilst waiting:
We appreciate that waiting times can be distressing and that this distress can have an impact on mental health.
If you are concerned about your mental health please contact your G.P in the first instance. If you are already attending mental health services then you can also contact your keyworker or psychiatrist. If you require assistance in the evenings or weekends or in the event of a crisis you should contact your local G.P out-of-hours service or hospital Emergency Department. Lifeline can be contacted for free at any time on 0808 808 8000. This service offers help and support for people who are in distress or despair and is operated by trained counsellors.
For more information on supports while you wait as well as information on social and legal transition, please see the details of organisations below.
- The Rainbow Project
- Transgender NI
- An initial assessment appointment will usually last for up to 3 hours.
- Further review appointments for service users will usually last 30 minutes to one hour. The frequency of sessions will depend on the individual and their personal circumstances.
- We are a teaching clinic, so from time to time we may ask your permission for trainee staff to sit in on sessions to observe. Permission for this is entirely up to your discretion and saying ‘no’ will not disadvantage you in any way.
Our normal opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. On occasion, we also run Consultant led clinics over the weekend and evenings, however please be advised that email and telephone enquiries are not responded to over weekends or bank holidays.
Location of service
The Brackenburn clinic is located at:
Unit 15, Shimna House, Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Saintfield Road, Belfast, BT8 8BH.
Upon invite for initial appointment, we will include a map of the hospital site to aid location of the building. Parking is available at the building and there are accessible bus routes close to the entrance of the healthcare park.
What if I can’t make an appointment?
Every month between 10-20% of all appointments we offer are missed, while our waiting lists are growing very rapidly.
Please respect other service users, and let us know if you can’t make an appointment so that we can offer the appointment slot to someone else.
Where to find us
Brackenburn Clinic sits within Mental Health and Learning Disability Services in Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and is located in Shimna House at Knockbracken Healthcare Park.
Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Belfast, BT8 8BH
Tel. 02895 041471
Opening hours for Telephone contact
9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday.
Members of the press and media should contact our Press and Media Team