NHS drafts stricter oversight of trans youth care


Source: Reuters


England’s National Health Service has drafted new guidelines for treating transgender youth that would call for local authorities to be alerted in some cases where young people have obtained puberty blockers and hormone therapies on the private market, according to a copy of the guidelines reviewed by Reuters.

The guidelines are part of a wide-ranging review of treatment for young transgender people seeking NHS care. The current approach, which can include medical interventions, has been criticized by some practitioners who said it rushed people onto medication, and by families who complained the service could not manage fast-growing demand.


Content of the NHS Draft


The draft guideline says that if NHS professionals decide a patient should not be taking puberty blockers or hormone treatments obtained privately, they can advise the patient’s primary care doctor to initiate “safeguarding protocols.”

The draft does not spell out why safeguarding measures would be taken or what that would entail. But under NHS protocols, “safeguarding teams” are made up of representatives of the police, medical and social services professionals who are responsible for ensuring a child’s safety and well-being.

The NHS has previously said it “strongly discouraged” people from sourcing gender-affirming medications online from providers that are not regulated within the UK.

“No-one should be purchasing illegal, unknown and potentially life-threatening drugs online,” said NHS England medical director Dr Stephen Powis in a statement earlier this week.

Cleo Madeleine, a spokesperson for Gendered Intelligence, a national transgender-led charity which provides training, support and policy advice, said the charity did not want to comment directly on the draft document. Any new guidelines must avoid a “rehash” of the current system, which has “so many administrative barriers and capacity issues that it became unsustainable,” she said.

“It is crucial that the new services focus on … actually facilitating access to treatment and support rather than leaving young people and their families in limbo,” she said.

Other changes in the draft guidelines include: allowing only NHS professionals to refer youth for gender care, proposing teams with wider professional expertise within the clinics, and requiring meetings between referring staff and a clinic to establish if gender clinics are the best route for treatment.


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