Puberty blockers for under-16s reviewed by NHS

Gabriella Swerling
·2-min read
The NHS is undertaking a review into gender identity services - PA
The NHS is undertaking a review into gender identity services - PA

Puberty-blocker prescriptions for transgender children under 16 are set to be reviewed, NHS England has announced.

The drugs are prescribed to some young people experiencing gender dysphoria - a "mismatch" between their biological sex and gender identity.

NHS England said that it will establish a new independent review group to assess the prescription of the drugs for children under 16.

The announcement comes following a High Court ruling in March, which concluded that parents can consent to the treatment on behalf of their child - although the judge added it may be that "additional safeguards" should be built into the decision-making process.

Last month's case was brought after three high court judges had previously ruled that children under 16 were unlikely to be able to give informed consent for the treatment.

That ruling, in December, followed a case brought against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust which provides England's only NHS specialist gender clinic for children.

NHS England said its new processes and review group were being introduced on an "interim basis" while it awaits the outcome of a review into gender identity services led by Dr Hilary Cass OBE, former President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

In a statement on its website, NHS England said: "This [new] group will be comprised of health and care professionals with expertise in child development, neurodevelopment and mental health, assessing capacity and consent, and safeguarding processes."

It added the review group would be a temporary measure as it awaits the outcome of Dr Cass's report to ensure any decision-making follows a "robust" process.

Until the group is operational a requirement for a best interests court order, for new patients, will remain.