Doctors at England’s only NHS transgender clinic for children warn lobby groups and pushy parents are exposing young patients to ‘long-term damage’
- Tavistock Gender Identity Development Clinic ‘unable to stand up to pressure’
- Care said to be ‘woefully inadequate’ according to a report by senior clinician
- Review by medical director found it ‘safe and operating in line with the best care’
Doctors at an NHS gender identity clinic have warned young patients could be exposed to ‘long-term damage’ due to lobby groups and pushy parents.
The Tavistock Gender Identity Development Clinic in north London has an ‘inability to stand up to pressure’ from campaigners and parents demanding fast-track transitions, doctors have said.
The clinic, part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, is also providing ‘woefully inadequate’ care, with some staff citing ‘very serious ethical concerns’ about their workplace, a recent report said.
The report, made by former staff governor David Bell, said some children ‘take up a trans identity as a solution’ to ‘multiple problems such as historic child abuse in the family, bereavement, homophobia, and a very significant incidence of autism spectrum disorder’.
The Tavistock Gender Identity Development Clinic in north London has an ‘inability to stand up to pressure’ from campaigners and parents demanding fast-track transitions, its own clinicians have said
It also claimed the children may have been ‘coached’ by campaign groups and said the histories of ‘highly disturbed or complex’ patients were not thoroughly investigated, the Sunday Times reported.
The Bell report said many children questioning their identity may have ‘learnt through online resources [or] coaching from from parents or peers exactly what to say in order to get the results they want’.
One staff member said: ‘You suddenly see groups of kids who at initial interview give exactly the version of transition details, reasons, etc. I have overheard them in the corridor, parents coaching children before the interview and chiding them.
‘I feel I have let down a large number of children’.
The Bell report also said that in some instances feelings which were typical for young people had been relabelled as being to do with wanting to change gender.
The clinic, which is the largest single provider of Gender Identity Services for children in the UK, also allegedly referred patients for puberty-blocking hormones after just one session. The clinic denies this is the case.
An official review, compiled in response to the report, accepted some of the claims and made a number of recommendations.
But the trust’s medical director, Dinesh Sinha, found no evidence to support concerns about the care provided and claimed the clinic was ‘safe and operating in line with the best care in this field internationally’.
The trust’s medical director, Dinesh Sinha, found no evidence to support concerns about poor care (Pictured, ITV’s Butterfly which explores the gender transition of a young child)
A statement on the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust website said: ‘The Trust has thoroughly investigated the concerns raised in Dr Bell’s report. None of the concerns around safety or safeguarding were upheld by our Medical Director.
‘The recommendations made by Dr Sinha mainly focused on standardising and evidencing our very thoughtful and personalised processes in a field where clinicians grapple daily with high levels of complexity, sparse evidence and great variety in the young people coming forward, their developmental stage, feelings, histories and hopes.
‘The service prides itself in taking a perspective on issues of gender identity which is independent, open-minded and based on the needs of an individual young person.
‘Our clinicians work thoughtfully with young people addressing complex issues and appropriately extending assessments on a case by case basis.’
It added: ‘The report presented hypothetical vignettes rather than actual case studies and does not reflect the practice of the Service.’
GIDS is described by the NHS as a clinic ‘for children and young people, and their families, who experience difficulties in the development of their gender identity’.
It aims ‘to understand the obstacles standing between young people and the development of a more settled and confident gender identity, and to try and minimise any negative influences from these obstacles.’