Calls to ban ‘Wild West’ gender clinics which hand out puberty blockers to children intensify

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Calls to stop ‘Wild West’ private gender clinics handing out puberty blockers to children intensified last night, ahead of the publication of a much-anticipated report into the sector.

Campaigners, including former prime minister Liz Truss, called for ‘cowboy clinics’ to be barred from prescribing, after the NHS last month took the decision to stop handing them out.

They said frustration with delays and NHS waiting lists had driven vulnerable children into the arms of unregulated private clinics.

Campaigners, including former prime minister Liz Truss , called for ‘cowboy clinics’ to be barred from prescribing, after the NHS last month took the decision to stop handing them out (Stock Image)

Why I spoke up for kids, by Dr Whistleblower

A whistleblower at the Tavistock Trust said he is ‘pleased I didn’t turn away’ when colleagues raised concerns to him about the children’s gender service, which closed last month.

Dr David Bell, who worked at the trust as a consultant psychiatrist for 25 years, spoke ahead of the publication of a report into the Independent Review of Gender Identity Services for Children and Young People.

In 2018, two years before the review was commissioned, Dr Bell laid out concerns children were being ‘rushed through’ the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, but not given the care they needed for issues such as anxiety and depression.

Dr Bell said: ‘I am pleased I didn’t turn away. ‘

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The calls come just days before the publication of an independent review of gender identity services for children by Dr Hilary Cass.

Dr Michael Biggs, a professor of sociology from the University of Oxford and board member of charity Sex Matters, said: ‘Private gender clinics are a law unto themselves and need to be banned.

‘These cowboy clinics should not be allowed to continue supplying children with drugs for which NHS England says there is not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness.’

Dr Cass’s interim report in September 2022 warned against the routine prescribing of puberty blockers to children. The provisional findings were taken up by NHS England last month.

But campaigners have warned there is nothing to prevent children from obtaining the drugs through private clinics and have called for tighter regulation. 

Ms Truss, who is campaigning to change the law through a private members’ bill, accused activists of exploiting existing legislation.

She said: ‘I am very concerned that private gender clinics are a Wild West for vulnerable children.

‘Extreme activists are exploiting loopholes to encourage children to take drugs that will permanently change their bodies.’

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