The NHS will lead an independent review into gender identity services for children and young people.
A spokesman for the NHS said the review will be lead by Dr Hilary Cass OBE, former President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and will be wide-ranging in scope looking into several aspects of gender identity services.
With a focus on how care can be improved for children and young people including 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 will also set out workforce recommendations for specialist healthcare professionals and examine the recent rise in the number of children seeking treatment.
Dr Cass will then make clear recommendations for children and young people’s gender identity services reporting back next year.
The Gender Identity Development Service for Children and Adolescents is managed by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is due to carry out a focused inspection of The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Gender Identity Services for children and young people, during the autumn.
The inspection will cover parts of the safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led key questions and will include feedback from people using the service, parents, relatives, carers, and staff.
Separately, Dr Cass will also review the service’s clinical practice with the support of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and engagement of other professional bodies to provide multi-professional insight working closely with the CQC.
The review includes an examination of the issues surrounding children and young people who are prescribed puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormone drugs.
Gender variant and transgender youth charity, Mermaids, welcomed the broadening of the review and called for transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse voices to be placed at the core of the report.
‘If children and young people are to benefit from a better-provisioned service, the review must be based on clear evidence and lived experience.
‘We also support the Care Quality Commission’s focused inspection of GIDS, due in the Autumn, and we trust it will further support the work of the service’s hard-working clinicians.
‘The wellbeing of our service users lies at the very heart of everything we do. Therefore, we are encouraged by this opportunity to improve care and support for this small population of young people by making it as easy to access as other NHS healthcare services.
‘We are aware that some young people are waiting as long as 28 months from referral for their first appointment at the only NHS gender identity service for England and Wales, when they should be waiting no longer than 18 weeks.
‘This pressure often leads to great anxiety for children, young people and their families and we trust the evidenced and thorough review will acknowledge the urgent demand for increased and diversified provision, proportionate to need.
‘Our work with families and young people over the last 25 years has seen huge progress in the provision of services available to young people.
‘Mermaids looks forward to seeing another step forward, with transgender, non-binary and gender diverse young people at the very heart of improvements made.’
Dr Hilary Cass OBE, independent chair, 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.’
A transparent and inclusive process for stakeholder engagement and consultation will be established to ensure that everyone who wants to can make their views known.
Dr. Michael Brady, the 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.’
The independent review will present recommendations to NHS England and Improvement’s Quality and Innovation Committee.
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