Transgender boy, 14, launches legal action against NHS over delays to gender reassignment treatment after waiting more than a year for referral to clinic
- The teenager is being assisted in his fight for action by The Good Law Project
- It says the NHS has ‘legal obligation’ to provide specialist care within 18 weeks
- But the average waiting time for a first appointment is 18 months, group says
- NHS England insists an independent review into the service is already underway
A transgender teenage boy is launching legal against against NHS England over delays to gender reassignment treatment, having waited more than a year for a referral to the specialist clinic.
The 14-year-old is being assisted in his fight by The Good Law Project, which says the NHS has ‘a legal obligation’ to provide specialist care, or an alternative, within 18 weeks.
However, the average waiting time for a first appointment with the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at London’s Tavistock Centre, is 18 months, the organisation says, with some even waiting up to four years.
This is not even to actually get what the NHS describes as fully reversible puberty blockers, but just to begin the process of being assessed for eligibility.
Some 10,000 more young people have been referred to the already over-subscribed GIDS, according to figures obtained by the BBC.
NHS England says an independent review into the service run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust has been launched, and insists any legal action ‘will only cost taxpayers’ money and not help the actions already under way’.
Joylon Maugham is founder of The Good Law Project which is assisting the teenager in the legal fight
The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) is based at The Tavistock Centre in London
Reece, who came out to friends and family in primary school, told the BBC he would not want to bring such action ideally, but felt he didn’t have a choice as ‘nobody else is sticking up for trans young people’.
He added: ‘I know more than 30 trans people, from school and LGBT groups. Everybody’s been waiting for months, or even years, but nobody’s been able to get in yet.
‘It’s scary because it shows the service isn’t available to the people who need it.’
Jolyon Maugham, barrister and founder of The Good Law Project, said: ‘Children are losing the opportunity to be seen within a window in which they can secure effective treatment.
‘They are, in practice, being denied access to treatments which are correlated with improved mental health and reduced suicide risk.’
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘There has been more than a 500% rise in the number of children and young people being referred to the Tavistock’s gender identity service since 2013 as more people come forward for support and treatment.
‘The NHS has already asked Dr Hilary Cass to carry out an independent review including how and when children and young people are referred to specialist services, so legal action against the NHS will only cost taxpayers’ money and not help the actions already under way.’