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HomeMedico-LegalUK watchdog probes gender clinic linked to scandal-hit Tavistock

UK watchdog probes gender clinic linked to scandal-hit Tavistock

Barely a month after its opening, a private gender clinic in Britain, run by former staff from the scandal hit NHS Tavistock Centre, is being investigated by the government’s health watchdog.

The controversial new Gender Plus clinic, which may refer children and teenagers for gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatment, is being probed for failing to register with health regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which said it was not currently looking at a criminal investigation.

However, critics fears that Gender Plus poses a serious risk to young people, reports Daily Mail.

Around half of the clinic’s staff previously worked at the Tavistock's Gender Identity Development Service, the NHS’ only clinic treating children for gender dysphoria, which was ordered to close last year after a damning NHS review which ruled it “not safe” for children.

The clinic, which opened in the 1980s, was strongly criticised for allegedly rushing thousands of teenagers on to life-altering puberty blocking drugs. Since then, former patients have come forward saying they regret transitioning.

Last month, former Tavistock staff opened Gender Plus, which has offices in London, Birmingham and Dublin. The company’s website says it provides “specialist gender assessment for children, adolescent and young adults”.

They offer referrals to clinicians who provide hormone treatment and surgery.

Its gender assessment sessions cost £275 for a one-hour appointment and it is recommended that under-18s need six sessions for a “full assessment”. But there are concerns from doctors that most consultations are being carried out remotely via Zoom calls.

Gender Plus’s clinical director Dr Aidan Kelly was at Tavistock for five years until it was closed down, while six other former Tavistock staff work for Gender Plus.

Its website claims the company is setting up an “associated hormone clinic” run by a consultant nurse who was a member of the Tavistock NHS team from 2015 onwards.

But Gender Plus is already facing issues. The new clinic has alarmed officials at the CQC, which started investigating its practices earlier this month.

Investigators will also seek to establish whether Gender Plus should have been registered with the regulator before opening.

However, Gender Plus said it was offering consultation and therapy sessions that do not require CQC oversight, as clinical services would. The watchdog previously branded the Tavistock’s gender unit as “inadequate” after a 2020 inspection. Two years later it was shut down by the NHS, following almost two decades of concerns from former staff, patients and relatives.

Critics said the Tavistock clinic’s “affirmative” treatment model ignored evidence that an astonishing 97.5% of children seeking sex changes had autism, depression or other problems that might have explained their unhappiness, rather than gender dysphoria.

NHS England recently confirmed it would prescribe puberty blockers to children only as part of clinical trials. It said there was “not enough evidence to support their safety or clinical effectiveness”. There are concerns that private clinics such as Gender Plus may be able to bypass the new protections.

Last year's NHS review said there was not enough research on the long-term impact of hormones on young people.

A spokesperson for Gender Plus said: “Our service management have previously clarified with the CQC that the holistic psycho-social service we provide, which includes gender, mental health and neurodevelopmental assessment and support, does not fall under their remit and as such is not eligible for CQC registration.”

The CQC said it was not undertaking a criminal investigation but “if new information becomes available, that gives reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed, we will consider appropriate action”.

 

Daily Mail article – Now health watchdog probes private gender clinic set up by staff from scandal-hit Tavistock unit (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

NHS drafts new guidelines for treating transgender youth

 

1 000 families to sue UK gender identity service

 

Landmark UK ruling on puberty blockers for under-16s

 

UK to ban under-18s from surgery to change gender

 

 

 

 

 

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