NHS to close only gender identity clinic and replace it with regional network

The contract for the Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust will be brought to a close.

28 July 2022

The NHS is closing its gender identity clinic for children and young people and replacing it with a regional network after it was told that only having one provider “is not a safe or viable long-term option”.

The contract for the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust will be brought to a close, the NHS said.

It said it intends to build a “more resilient service” by expanding provision into a regional network, and is taking “immediate steps” to establish two services led by specialist children’s hospitals in London and the North West.

The NHS aims for these to be fully up and running by Spring 2023.

It follows recommendations from Dr Hilary Cass, who is leading an independent review into Gender Identity Services for children and young people.

The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust
General view of Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London

She said there was a need to move away from a model of a sole provider and that the number of children seeking NHS help “is now outstripping the capacity of the single national specialist service”. 

In her interim report, released in March, she wrote: “It has become increasingly clear that a single specialist provider model is not a safe or viable long-term option in view of concerns about lack of peer review and the ability to respond to the increasing demand.”

Demand for support from GIDS has risen sharply over the last decade, with more than 5,000 referrals in 2021/22, compared to less than 250 in 2011-12.

The review also found some health staff feel under pressure to adopt an “unquestioning affirmative approach”, and recommended they remain open and explore the patient’s experience and options.

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