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Children will no longer be prescribed puberty blockers at gender identity clinics

Children will no longer be prescribed controversial puberty blockers – medicines used to postpone puberty in minors – at gender identity clinics, NHS England has confirmed.

The government said it welcomed the “landmark decision”, adding it would help ensure care is based on evidence and is in the “best interests of the child”

Puberty blockers, which pause the physical changes of puberty such as breast development or facial hair, will now only be available to children as part of clinical research trials.

The move follows a public consultation and an interim policy on the issue, which stems from a 2020 NHS England review of gender identity services for under-18s.

The review, led by Dr Hilary Cass, followed a jump in referrals to the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which is set to close at the end of March.

In 2021/22, there were over 5,000 referrals to Gids, compared to just under 250 a decade earlier.

The clinic has come under repeated scrutiny – in February 2022, Dr Cass published a report which said there was a need to move away from one central unit, and recommended the creation of regional services to better support youngsters.

She also pointed to a lack of long-term evidence and data collection on what happens to children and young people who are prescribed medication.

 

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