New gender clinics for children to open after year-long delay

todayMarch 31, 2024 1

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New gender clinics for children to open after year-long delay

New gender identity clinics for children are set to open after a year-long delay and the closure of the much-scrutinised Tavistock service.

Around 250 patients, who were being treated at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, will have responsibility for their care officially transferred to the new clinics on Monday.

Some 5,000 children and young people are on the waiting list for referral to the new clinics in the north and south of England.

They were initially intended to be up and running by spring 2023 but this was pushed back amid what NHS England described at the time as the “complex” set-up of the “completely new service”.

The new hubs will be led by London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said the new clinics will include “experts on safeguarding, neurodiversity and mental health to ensure children are protected”.

NHS England hopes they will be the first of up to eight specialist centres over the next two years and described their opening as “just the first step in establishing a new model which provides holistic support for children and young people and their families”.

In 2020, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated GIDS inadequate, stating the service was difficult to access, with young people waiting over two years for their first appointment.

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Cass Review prompts closure of Tavistock service

The closure of the service at the Tavistock was prompted by a review which stated a need to move away from one unit and recommended the creation of regional services to better support young people.

The review, led by Dr Hilary Cass, followed a sharp rise in referrals to GIDS, with more than 5,000 referrals in 2021/22 compared to just under 250 a decade earlier.

Dr Cass’s interim report, published in February 2022, highlighted a lack of long-term evidence and data collection on what happens to children and young people who are prescribed medication.

She added that GIDS had not collected routine and consistent data “which means it is not possible to accurately track the outcomes and pathways that children and young people take through the service”.

Her final report is expected in the coming weeks.

In March, NHS England confirmed children will no longer be prescribed puberty blockers at gender identity clinics, which the government welcomed as a “landmark decision”. The drugs will now only be available to children as part of clinical research trials.

Written by: Newsroom

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