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Puberty blockers update: NHSE introduces 2 new gender clinics post Gids closure

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New gender clinics to address rising referrals, lack of consensus in gender dysphoria treatment for children and teens and continuity of patient-care 

London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool are poised to introduce groundbreaking gender-related services in England, following the closure of the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) operated by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Amid concerns expressed by hospital executives regarding the closure of Gids, with leaked emails revealing apprehensions about appointment cancellations and inadequate communication with the new services, the National Health Services England (NHSE) has confirmed “its commitment to ensuring continuity of care for patients already accessing endocrine care in GIDS.”

NHSE’s decision to transition to regional services stems from a 2022 interim review, led by Dr. Hilary Cass, which highlighted the need for improved support structures for gender-distressed youth.

It emphasized a significant increase in referrals to Gids, surpassing 5,000 in 2021/22, compared to less than 250 a decade ago.

Additionally, it pointed out the absence of consensus and open dialogue regarding the nature of gender dysphoria, leading to uncertainty about the suitable clinical approach.

Dr. Cass said that Gids had not collected routine and consistent data “which means it is not possible to accurately track the outcomes and pathways that children and young people take through the service”.

Recently, NHSE made headlines by announcing the cessation of routine prescriptions of puberty blockers at gender identity clinics, signaling a shift towards evidence-based care. Now, puberty blockers will solely be accessible through clinical research trials, underscoring NHSE’s dedication to prioritizing the welfare of children.

The two upcoming gender clinics aim to address these gaps while offering holistic care and are anticipated to mark the beginning of potentially eight specialist centers, forming part of the North and South hubs in the coming two years.

NHSE’s move towards regional services aims to improve accessibility and enhance the quality of gender-affirming care for children across England.

The establishment of these clinics will benefit from the expertise of professionals in neurodiversity, pediatrics, and mental health, ensuring comprehensive support.

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