Number of children on puberty blockers doubles to 83
Number of children on puberty blockers doubles to 83 compared to two previous years despite the NHS vowing to crackdown on their use
- Another 17 began treatment at hospitals taking referrals from scandal-hit GIDS
The number of children being put on puberty blockers has doubled despite the NHS pledging to crack down on the contentious treatment.
New figures show that 83 young people questioning their gender identity began taking the drug in the 12 months to July, twice the average of the previous two years.
Another 17 began treatment between July and October, according to Freedom of Information responses from Leeds General Infirmary and University College London Hospital which receive referrals from the scandal-hit Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS).
The figures do not include private patients or those treated by a GP so the true figure could be far higher, the Telegraph said.
It comes despite NHS England ordering the closure of the GIDS clinic run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in July 2022 after a series of warnings.
The number of children on puberty blockers has doubled. 17 children started treatment hospitals who receive referrals from the scandal-hit Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS). One service run by Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust (pictured) which was ordered to be closed in July 2022
A landmark review by Dr Hilary Cass warned that the GIDS was struggling to cope with soaring demand
Former staff said it was fast-tracking vulnerable teenagers into irreversible treatment, inspectors rated it inadequate and the landmark review by Dr Hilary Cass warned it was struggling to cope with soaring demand.
NHS England also agreed with her recommendation that puberty blockers should only be prescribed as part of clinical trials because of the ‘significant uncertainties’ surrounding their use.
Campaigner Stephanie Davies-Arai asked: ‘How many more children will be given blockers before they stop?
‘I don’t understand how the NHS can sit back and let this continue when they know the harms that were described in Dr Cass’ interim report.’
An NHS spokesman said: ‘In line with recommendations from the Independent Cass Review, the NHS launched a consultation on proposals to stop the routine use of puberty suppressing hormones because of a lack of evidence for their use and is now analysing the thousands of responses.’
Campaigner Stephanie Davies-Arai asked how many more children will be put on blockers before NHS take action
Dr David Bell, a consultant psychiatrist and Tavistock whistleblower, said hormones caused ‘considerable damage’.
‘It is not the case that the safety of puberty blockers is unknown’, he told the Telegraph.
‘We know quite a lot. There are serious concerns about bone mineralisation and long-term cognitive effects,” he said, citing the potential for weak bones, compromised brain development and long-term heart disease risks.
‘We know 98 per cent of children starting puberty blockers go on to take opposite-sex hormones, and a very significant proportion of those go on to have surgery,” he added. “They are being started on a pathway which is highly likely to be irreversible. Once you start them on that path, it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.‘
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