A TRANSGENDER police officer is working with the NHS to advise doctors on how best to deal with patients wanting to undergo gender reassignment.

Sgt Gina Denham, from Essex Police, is hoping doctors will consider alternative routes for patients instead of referring them initially to a counsellor.

Ms Denham said patients are often sent to counselling first instead of to a gender identity clinic.

The 52-year-old, who was born male and decided to live life as a woman in November 2014, estimates she had attended 65 counselling sessions - the first eight or nine of which she deemed unnecessary.

To promote awareness of the different options, she is giving a talk to the Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group in April and has already delivered a presentation to another group.

She said: “One of the biggest barriers and potential cost to the NHS is our GPs sending our members to have counselling when they are meant to be referred to a gender clinic. The GP just seems to ignore your request and sends you to counselling to try to cure you.

“We don’t want GPs to refer people to counselling as the automatic step. I don’t feel they are helping their patients by giving them the appropriate advice.”

Gender identity clinics have specialist teams, which can offer mental health advice, hormone treatment, speech and language therapy, hair removal treatments and family support groups.