The NHS has launched an appeal following the UK High Court’s decision to restrict under 16s accessing ‘puberty blocking’ drugs.
Doctors and parents have expressed concerns about trans teenagers after the ruling has caused them a lot of distress.
Agreeing with the concerns, the NHS has stated that the move will negatively affect young people with gender dysphoria – a condition that the NHS describes as “a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity”.
According to ‘Unilad’, the High Court said the reason behind its decision was because those under the age of 16 are “unlikely to be able to give informed consent to undergo treatment with puberty-blocking drugs.”
Dame Victoria Sharp explained, “It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers.”
Sharp continued, “It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers.”
As a result of the recent ruling, young people under the age of 16 who wish to take puberty blockers must now need a clinician to apply to the High Court to access the drugs, as well as pausing all current referrals and appointments.
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which runs England and Wales’ only children’s gender identity service, has since lodged an appeal against the decision alongside University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust.
While they have sought permission to lodge an appeal, the Tavistock and Portman Trust has said it will “continue to work with partners and our commissioner NHS England to respond to the requirements of the judgment” in the meantime.
In a statement shared on December 22, the Trust explained:
Our first and foremost consideration is the wellbeing of our patients and their families. We have been working with partners to design a robust clinical review process for assessing cases of patients currently undergoing endocrine treatment and those currently awaiting treatment.
These Clinical Reviews will provide the basis for making best interest applications to the Courts in cases where it is recommended that treatment should continue. Although we will also be undertaking clinical reviews of 16- and 17-year olds, a best interest application will only be needed where there is any doubt about their best interests.
It added that the process of clinical review will begin at the end of next month and that further detail about the court process will be set out in the new year.
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