HSE forked out €850k for sex-change operations in Britain
The HSE paid for 28 patients to undergo sex-change procedures and associated treatments in Britain last year.
Transgender reassignment or sex-change procedures are not performed in Ireland, but can be arranged in another country and funded by the HSE under the Treatment Abroad Scheme.
Nearly 60 people have undergone sex-change procedures at taxpayers’ expense since 1999.
Records released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 28 were in the process of transitioning and receiving treatment last year.
The treatment involves hormone-replacement therapy, surgical reconstruction and other procedures to alter the patient’s physical appearance.
Based on pricing data provided by the HSE, the full cost of the completed treatment for 28 people would amount to about €850,000.
This excludes travel expenses and post-operative care.
The latest data represents a substantial increase in the number of people receiving treatment funded by the HSE.
Four patients travelled abroad for the treatment in 2014, five in 2013 and 12 in 2012.
According to the HSE, the average cost of an assessment and associated procedures is about €30,000, though the cost of female-to-male operations is considerably higher than male-to-female procedures.
An HSE spokesperson said information could not be provided on how many visits to Britain would be required in each case.
The HSE has previously said the volume of requests for transgender reassignment surgery each year would not support the provision of a specialised service here.
“Each of the patients who availed of the treatment did so by way of clinical referral from their treating physician in Ireland, as per the guidelines,” the spokesperson said.
“The scheme allows an Irish-based consultant to refer a patient who is normally resident in Ireland for treatment, unavailable in Ireland, and a proven form of medical treatment that is not an experimental therapy.”