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Judgment handed down in appeal relating to NHS waiting times


The Court of Appeal has dismissed the Appellants’ appeal in AA & Ors v NHS England [2023] EWCA Civ 902, a judicial review against NHS England relating to extensive waiting times for specific NHS services, including gender identity services.

NHS England has a duty to make arrangements to ensure that 92% of people referred to defined services – including gender identity services – wait no more than 18 weeks for a first appointment.

The Court of Appeal found that NHS England’s duties in respect of waiting times for specified healthcare services are ‘target duties’, and so not legally enforceable, in part on the basis that the relevant regulations do not provide that NHS England ‘must ensure’ that the waiting time standard is met, but rather that they must ‘make arrangements’ designed to achieve that standard. The Court also made a declaration that the duty applies only to referrals for specific consultant-led services.

The Appellants, represented by Rook Irwin Sweeney, were two adults and two children who waited or have been waiting between 2 and 5 years for a first appointment with gender identity services. The case was supported by the non-profit campaigning organisation, Good Law Project.

Whilst our clients are disappointed by the judgment, they will continue to call for timely access to healthcare for transgender people and all those who need specialist NHS services.


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