NHS England faces legal action for ‘persistent and long-standing violations of the law’ within Gender Identity Development Services, which provide healthcare to transgender people.
A teenager whose legal teams say he was denied access to gender identity development services (GIDS) has taken legal action against NHS England.
With support from the Good Law Project, the case is based on NHS England’s legal obligation to ensure patients are seen within 18 weeks, following a referral from their GP.
However, trans health care clinics have extraordinary wait times, where some patients wait up to four years for help.
According to the Good Law Project, on average, young trans and non-binary people wait 18 months or more. They also note that this “illegal state of trans health care waiting lists is a longstanding issue pre-pandemic,” in their statement announcing the case.
The legal challenge is supported by several leading human rights organizations, including LGBTQ charity Stonewall, Amnesty International UK, Liberty and Gendered Intelligence.
But the case itself is brought by a teenager, whose legal team has protected the identity.
However, in an interview with the BBC – where he was named Reece – he says he would “ideally” not take legal action. But he does it because “no one else stands up for trans youth.”
NHS England currently only orders one supplier, the Tavistock and Portland Foundation Trust, for the provision of ISWM to children and adolescents.
The GIDS website already recognizes that their current wait times are over 18 weeks, which means that they are in breach of their legal obligation.
However, the Good Law Project and the teenager have already signaled that they hope the NHS will make a clear, concrete and meaningful commitment to improvement, which will prevent them from pursuing legal action.
“We hope that NHS England will take this opportunity to take urgent action to remedy these violations and prevent claimants from escalating this case,” the Good Law Project’s letter to the NHS reads.
“The applicants’ decision whether or not to initiate judicial review will depend on your response to the questions raised in this letter and to the requests for information set out below. “
“Doctors and experts agree on the health care I need – But in the UK it is impossible to access it”
“I did not choose this situation,” says the teenager who takes legal action.
“I just want to have access to the medical treatment that I would have access to in all other developed countries.
“Doctors and experts around the world agree on the healthcare that I and other trans people need. But in this country, it is impossible to have access to this care.
“In this country, we seem to be having a lot of debates between people who have a non-specialist opinion about the medical help and support that I should be able to get. I want NHS doctors, alongside my parents and I, to be able to focus on my needs and care rather than being afraid to do so because of the opinions of people who don’t know what it is. is to be trans. “
Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, says the current system means children are denied access to help.
“Whatever your take on the right treatment regimen for young people with gender dysphoria, it can’t be fair that they face long waiting lists – on some reports up to four years old. – for a first date, ”says Maugham.
“Children lose the opportunity to be seen in a window where they can get effective treatment and are therefore, in practice, denied access to that treatment.
“Having safe and properly regulated treatment pathways is essential if we are to prevent children and adolescents from accessing poorly regulated treatment elsewhere, including self-medication with drugs bought on the dark web.”
Stonewall, the LGBTQ charity, praised the action, and their CEO Nancy Kelly added:
“Many young people and their families are left without proper support, guidance and care. This needs to change urgently – a change that we hope this action will help bring about. “
An NHS England spokesperson told the BBC:
“There has been a more than 500% increase in the number of children and youth referred to Tavistock’s Gender Identity Service since 2013, as more people come forward for support and counseling. 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 that legal action against the NHS will only cost the taxpayer money and will not help actions already underway. “