The National Health Service (NHS) England has published a report into its gender incongruence services for children and young people, in it, declaring that the prescription of routine puberty blockers for children and adolescents will be rescinded.
In the document, published on Friday, June 9, the NHS argued that more evidence into the potential benefits and harms of puberty blockers is needed.
The report stated that the NHS would only permit the use of puberty blockers for under 18-year-olds in “exceptional circumstances” or as part of a research study into their effects.
The statement read, “Outside of a research setting, puberty suppressing hormones should not be routinely commissioned for children and adolescents.”
As well as suspending access to the medication in what they referred to as an “interim policy”, the Health Service also issued advice regarding “patients accessing prescriptions from un-regulated sources”.
“Children, young people and their families are strongly discouraged from sourcing GnRHa and masculinising / feminising hormones from unregulated sources or from on-line providers”, the statement began.
It proposed, “The Service would make the child or young person and their family aware of the risks, contraindications and any irreversible or partly reversible effects and would advise the GP to initiate local safeguarding protocols.” It did not clarify what “local safeguarding protocols” referred to.
Despite the NHS website describing the effects of puberty blockers as “physically reversible”, it also notes that “it is not known what the psychological effects may be.”
It also claims that children can grow out of “gender variant behaviour”, contradicting the findings of an EPATH report which identifies that as few as 0.47% of gender identity clinic patients express regret after transitioning.
The specification states puberty blockers will only be prescribed to children who consent to participate in a medical research protocol.
This cannot be right. Treatment should be based on clinical need, and coerced participation in research is unethical.
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) June 9, 2023
Following the publication of the report, LGBTQ+ Charity Stonewall issued a statement on Twitter condemning the decision regarding the prescription of puberty blockers, saying, “The specification states puberty blockers will only be prescribed to children who consent to participate in a medical research protocol. This cannot be right. Treatment should be based on clinical need, and coerced participation in research is unethical.”
Although the charity was generally favourable and welcomed the report, saying, “…we welcome the way in which the specification now focuses more on the experiences, perspectives and best interests of trans and gender questioning children”, it further criticised the NHS’s neglect to recognise the impact that delayed waiting time for patients seeking trans-affirming healthcare could have.
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