Auckland surgeon, Wayne Jones, says due to an increase in workload he can no longer provide trans* and gender diverse patients with chest reconstruction surgery covered under the public health system.
Jones is the only surgeon in Auckland currently carrying out the procedure under the public health system and has been pivotal in providing the Auckland trans* and gender diverse communities access to such a vital service.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) states that chest reconstruction surgery – also known as ‘top surgery’ – is “Not optional in any meaningful sense, but understood to be a medically necessary treatment for a diagnosed condition.”
As it is trans* and gender diverse people lack access to the vital and most basic of medical services and treatments required to maintain a level of wellbeing.
Struggling to keep up with the high level of demand, Jones says the current waiting list for top surgery is under huge pressure.
Despite rumours that Auckland District Health Board has cut funding for this surgery, Jones says as there is no specific funding earmarked for top surgery there is nothing to be cut.
He explains that the decision to discontinue top surgery for trans* and gender diverse patients has come following a massive increase in workload and he is forced to concentrate on the increase in urgent surgeries needed by breast cancer patients. His says his team is currently struggling to keep within the Ministry of Health’s guidelines for these patients.
Jones says that he would like to accommodate the individual surgical needs of his trans* and gender diverse patients however he acknowledges that in the system as it currently stands this is not achievable.
He assures patients that his team will do their “very best to accommodate those patients currently on the waiting list”.
Acknowledging that top surgery is a vital surgery for many trans* and gender diverse people Jones believes there needs to be a multi disciplinary team comprising of psychiatric and sexual health services to ensure trans* and gender diverse patients receive a high level of care.
This multidisciplinary team is something Jones hopes to see in the future however says that nothing has been formalised yet.
| Sarah Murphy