Children’s gender identity service to be replaced by regional model

Fiona Simpson
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The only service for children with gender dysphoria in England and Wales is set to be replaced by two new regional centres following a review of services, NHS England has announced.

The Tavistock Centre will close in spring 2023. Picture: Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
The Tavistock Centre will close in spring 2023. Picture: Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

The Tavistock Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), which is based in London’s Tavistock Centre and runs a site in Leeds, will close in Spring 2023.

NHS England has announced a new model of delivering GIDS led by specialist children’s hospitals and the establishment of two new early adopter services – one in London and one in the North West.

The London-based service will be formed as a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and Evelina London Children’s Hospital, with specialist mental health support provided by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

The North West-based service will be formed as a partnership between Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, who both provide specialist Children and young people’s mental health services.

The services are planned to be fully operational by Spring 2023 and “will take over clinical responsibility for all GIDS patients and those on the waiting list, with the current GIDS contract being brought to a managed close,” according to a statement from Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.

The trust, which is currently responsible for GIDS, added that “the expertise that resides within the current GIDS service and the endocrine services based in Leeds and University College London Hospitals will be critical to the successful formation of the new early adopter services and achieving a smooth transition for patients”.

The announcement comes following the publication of an interim report from review lead Dr Hilary Cass which said a “fundamentally different” model of care is needed for young people experiencing issues around their gender.

The introduction of specialist regional centres would “better meet their needs and reduce long waiting times”, Cass said, highlighting a sharp increase in referrals to GIDS in 2021/22 when more than 5,000 were made to the Tavistock service compared with just under 250 referrals in 2011/12.

Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust have assured patients currently receiving treatment that it will not be disrupted by the changes.

NHS England is set to announce a consultation into the new service in due course.

Charities supporting children with gender dysphoria have “cautiously welcomed” the announcement of regional centres for GIDS but say in order for them to work “the design and delivery of any service needs to involve children, young people and their families from the start”.

The Proud Trust said: “These regional centres have the potential to provide a more holistic and positive service for young people and their families.

“We are committed to ensuring that the voices of trans and non-binary young people are heard and listened to, that they have access to inclusive and safe health care pathways, which are facilitated by experienced and knowledgeable professionals and they are included in every part of the process.”

Mermaids added: “We welcome the news that NHS England plan to provide a more resilient and robust gender identity service in 2023 by expanding provision and improving the quality of care received by trans, non-binary and gender-diverse young people.

“The current provision is not fit for purpose, with waiting times of more than two-and-a-half years for an initial appointment and inadequate mental health support, and we have been calling for drastic improvements for many years.

“We ask NHS England to stick to their promise of a smooth transition, and ensure there is no further delay for those accessing gender identity services in England.”

However, the organisation said it still has “concerns” around recommendations made in the Cass review, adding it would “continue to make our concerns heard, and to centre the voices and experiences of trans young people and their families in all work going forward.”

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