Scotland's Only Youth Gender Clinic Halts Puberty Blockers for New Patients Under 18

Scotland's gender clinic halts puberty blockers for minors, citing lack of evidence on long-term impacts, prioritizing patient safety amidst polarized debate over trans rights.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Scotland's Only Youth Gender Clinic Halts Puberty Blockers for New Patients Under 18

Scotland's Only Youth Gender Clinic Halts Puberty Blockers for New Patients Under 18

Scotland's sole gender clinic for minors, the Sandyford Sexual Health Service, has announced that it will no longer refer children under 18 to be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone drugs. This decision follows the publication of the Cass Review, a comprehensive report that found a lack of evidence on the long-term outcomes of gender transition procedures for children. The report also highlighted concerns about the risks and potential irreversible effects of these treatments.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian have also deferred starting new patients on these treatments in response to the Cass Review findings and NHS England's guidance. The Scottish health authorities have emphasized the need to prioritize patient safety and generate more evidence on the long-term impacts of these therapies before continuing to prescribe them to minors.

The Cass Review, commissioned by NHS England, made over 32 recommendations, including that gender care operates to the same standards as other children's health services. As a result, NHS England has confirmed that children will no longer be prescribed puberty blockers outside of research trials.

Why this matters: The decision to halt puberty blockers for new patients under 18 at Scotland's only youth gender clinic reflects a growing concern about the lack of long-term evidence supporting these treatments. This move highlights the need for a cautious and evidence-based approach to gender-affirming care for minors, prioritizing patient safety and well-being.

The Sandyford clinic in Glasgow currently has 1,100 patients on the waiting list, and 43 existing patients will continue to receive puberty blockers or gender-affirming hormones. However, new prescriptions will be deferred until the patients reach 18. The Scottish government has faced pressure to respond to the Cass Review findings, with some politicians calling for the use of puberty blockers to be halted.

The changes have been criticized by transgender advocacy groups, but senior health officials in Scotland have welcomed the recommendations, highlighting the need to prioritize the care of young people amidst the increasingly polarized debate over trans rights. The Scottish government has stated it will work with healthcare providers and academic partners to establish safe and effective gender-affirming care practices based on the best available evidence.

Key Takeaways

  • Scotland's only youth gender clinic halts puberty blocker referrals for under-18s.
  • Cass Review found lack of evidence on long-term outcomes of gender transition procedures.
  • NHS England confirms children will no longer get puberty blockers outside of research trials.
  • Existing patients can continue treatment, but new prescriptions deferred until age 18.
  • Scottish govt to work on safe, evidence-based gender-affirming care practices.