New NHS trans youth clinics ‘not ready’ ahead of opening, sources claim

A sign outside of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which houses England's only trans youth clinic. The sign reads "The Tavistock Centre" along with an address and notices about CCTV.

Replacement NHS gender identity clinics for trans youth are reportedly understaffed and “nowhere near ready”, sources have claimed.

Following the planned closure of the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock Centre – NHS England’s only gender identity clinic for young people – two new regional hubs in London and the north of England are set to open in April, offering services trans and gender-questioning youth.

The new northern hub will be run as a partnership between Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, while the London hub will be run by the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust.

The decision to close GIDS, run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, came after an interim report from Dr Hilary Cass suggested a “fundamentally different” model of care is required to best support trans young people.

However, whistle-blowers have described the restructuring of care as “shoddy, disorganised, messy”, in an investigative piece by i News journalist Patrick Strudwick ahead of the new hubs opening.

An anonymous whistleblower who spoke to i News said: “They’re not fully staffed, they’re not fully trained … [it’s like] reinventing the wheel with a square.

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“We’re going from a single-service model to a no-service model,” they continued.

Activists in a crowd hold signs, with one saying "protect trans youth."
Activists in London rally in support of trans under-18s. (Getty)

Concerns over the reliability of the new centres first arose in May 2023 after the planned closure of Tavistock’s GIDS was delayed.

Amid work to establish the new regional hubs, the already lengthy wait times have reportedly increased, with private healthcare organisation GenderGP estimating the wait times for under-18s reaching over 39 months.

Chief among the several concerns expressed by anonymous staff members is staffing levels, with one source telling i News that two hubs allegedly have “17 or 18 clinical staff in total,” while, at its peak, GIDS had at least “70-plus clinicians.”

Last month, leaked emails seen by BBC News revealed staff had concerns about patient care ahead of Tavistock GIDS’ closure and that there were not “enough details” about the service’s replacement.

A spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust told i News: “We can confirm that the London centre/hub will be opening next week [from 1 April].”

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust told i News: “We can confirm that the North West Hub will open in April as planned.”

Responding to the specific issues raised by the whistle-blowers, an NHS England spokesperson told i News: “In line with the Cass Review, NHS England took the decision to close the Tavistock and set up a fundamentally different and improved approach to children and young people’s gender services.

“This transition is a complex piece of work, but this is just the first step in establishing a new model which provides holistic support for children and young people and their families.

“Our focus is on ensuring continuity of care as we establish the new service, and all patients waiting will be offered a local mental health assessment, with extra national resource provided to ensure the best possible support.”

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