NHS to SHUT Tavistock transgender clinic for children

NHS to SHUT Tavistock transgender clinic for children

The NHS's child transgender clinic will shut its doors after a damning report found it was 'not safe' for children.

The gender identity service at Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust will be replaced by regional centres at existing children's hospitals, which will provide more holistic care with 'strong links to mental health services'.

It comes in response to an ongoing review led by senior paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass, who warned the clinic was 'not a safe or viable long-term option'.

She found other mental health issues were 'overshadowed' in favour of gender identity issues when children were referred to Tavistock's Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS). 

The clinic has been accused of rushing children onto puberty blocking drugs by former patients who feel they weren't challenged enough.

Dr Cass has called for 'rapid' research on the use of the drugs after she found 'insufficient evidence' on their benefits.

NHS England said it would set up two new centres run by specialist children's hospitals in London and the North West to take responsibility for all of the Tavistock clinic's patients and waiting lists with the aim to shut down the clinic by next spring.

The outrageous clinic has treated at least 9,000 children for gender dysphoria since it opened in 1989.  

The Cass review was commissioned by NHS England in 2020 amid concerns there was 'scarce and inconclusive evidence to support clinical decision making'.

GIDS is the sole provider of gender dysphoria and gender identity services for children and young people across the whole of the UK.

There have also been concerns about the sharp rise in referrals to GIDS. There were more than 5,000 referrals being made in the last year, compared to just a few hundred 10 years ago.

GIDS has said there are currently no plans to change access to puberty blockers until the research programme proposed by Dr Cass is designed. 

Dr Cass, an ex-president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, launched her review of Tavistock to probe several issues affecting the clinic. 

The first of these was the sheer number of referrals, which reached more than 5,000 in 2021/22 - climbing from just 250 in 2011/12. 

Another issue was the nature of the cases, particularly among those in their early teens, had also changed, with the majority switching from 'birth-registered males' to 'birth-registered females'.

There were also concerns a 'significant number' of children were presenting with neurodiversity and other mental health needs and 'risky behaviours', which needed to be looked into deeper before setting them on the path of transitioning. 

In a letter to NHS England, Dr Cass also called for more research into the effects of puberty blockers on a young person's brain development.