Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to meet doctors over UK gender clinic concerns

Four doctors from the National Gender Service requested an urgent meeting with Stephen Donnelly to discuss the risk of continuing to refer Irish children to the closing Tavistock Centre.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly who is set to weigh in on UK clinic.
Image: Twitter: @DonnellyStephen

Four doctors from the National Gender Service (NGS) have requested to meet Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to discuss their concerns regarding the Tavistock clinic in the UK. 238 young people in Ireland have been referred to the centre between 2011 and 2021, and the HSE has announced that they will continue to make these referrals despite the centre’s impending closure.

Psychiatrists Dr Paul Moran and Dr Ian Schneider, and endocrinologists Dr Karl Neff and Prof Donal O’Shea, penned a letter to Minister Donnelly on Thursday, August 11, saying: “In light of the announcement by the HSE two days ago that it is to continue sending Irish children to the Tavistock GIDS for gender healthcare, despite the overwhelming evidence that this clinic is unsafe, and the decision of the NHS to close it, we request an urgent meeting with you to further discuss the risk this presents to Irish children”.

The Irish Times has reported that on Sunday, August 14, Prof O’Shea confirmed that the Minister has agreed to meet the doctors as soon as next week to discuss the UK clinic – although this has yet to be officially confirmed.

The NHS made the decision to shut down the facility after an independent review of the centre was published by Dr Hilary Cass, finding that the current model of a sole provider of Gender Identity Development Services, delivered at the Tavistock and Portman Centre, was inadequate. The clinic will be closed in favour of establishing two new regional centres – one in London and another in the North West of the country.

The National Clinical Director for Integrated Care in the HSE, Dr Siobhán Ní Bhriain, responded to claims that the Tavistock Centre is unsafe, saying that “the service has not been deemed not safe, because if it was deemed completely unsafe it would have closed immediately”.

She confirmed: “We will continue to refer while Tavistock is still open, we will monitor it extremely closely and we have for quite a number of years been exploring other options.”

Currently, there is no similar facility to Tavistock in Ireland, but Dr Ní Bhriain stated that developing such a service is a primary interest of the HSE.

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