NHS England promises to actually speak to trans kids in review of puberty blockers, hormones and healthcare

NHS England to review puberty blockers and trans youth healthcare

A scheduled review of gender identity services for trans youth will be expanded, NHS England has announced.

Healthcare for trans youth in the UK is provided at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock gender clinic in London.

It includes counselling and psychological support, and in some cases can include the prescribing of puberty blockers and, from the age of around 16, cross-sex hormones.

The review, which was first announced in January, will look at the way in which healthcare for trans and gender-questioning youth is provided by the NHS.

It was scheduled for 2020 as part of a change made by NHS England in 2016 to the way in which services for trans youth are provided.

Dr Hilary Cass OBE, previously a president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, was appointed in January to chair the independent group that will review the prescribing of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and investigate whether changes are required to existing clinical policies that underpin the use of these on the NHS.

This week, NHS England announced that the review headed by Dr Cass would be expanded. This came on the same day that the Conservative minister for women and equalities, Liz Truss, announced she would not be reforming the UK’s gender recognition laws.

The new expanded review, as well as looking into puberty blockers and hormones, will focus on how care can be improved for children and young people.

NHS England said this includes key aspects of care such as how and when they are referred to specialist services, and clinical decisions around how doctors and healthcare professionals support and care for patients with gender dysphoria.

It added that the new expanded scope of the review includes looking into the rise in the number of young people seeking healthcare.

Dr Cass said: “It is absolutely right that children and young people, who may be dealing with a complexity of issues around their gender identity, get the best possible support and expertise throughout their care.

“This will be an inclusive process in which everyone will have the opportunity to make their views known. In particular I am looking forward to hearing from young people and their families to understand their experiences.

“This review provides an opportunity to explore the most appropriate treatment and services required.”

Truss said Thursday (24 September) in the House of Commons that the Cass review “will look to ensure that young people get the best possible support and expertise throughout their care”, and confirmed that Dr Cass will report back next year.

Commenting on the expanded Cass review, Dr Michael Brady, the government’s national adviser for LGBT+ health said: “Every child matters and children and young people who are exploring their gender or experiencing gender dysphoria, including those who are trans or non-binary, deserve the very best from the NHS.

“This is why this review is so important so that all health professionals can deliver the very best healthcare in a compassionate and understanding way.

“Throughout this process it’s critical we hear from children and young people, those who have accessed these services, their families and expert clinicians so I am pleased that Dr. Cass has put this at the heart of her approach.”