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Tavistock gender clinic rated as ‘inadequate’ by UK gov’t health commission

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom's National Health Service's Care Quality Commission has rated a much-scrutinized gender clinic as "inadequate," the lowest possible rating.

The CQC enforced action against Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust in November upon completion of an inspection and found that the facility had “overwhelming caseloads, deficient record-keeping and poor leadership,” according to The Guardian.

Amid whistleblower advocacy and concerned former staff who have spoken out about how young patients were being rushed into medicalized gender-transitioning, the Tavistock clinic has faced heightened scrutiny in recent years, particularly as skyrocketing rates of minor girls have been referred to the service. 

“Staff did not fully record the reasons for their clinical decisions in case notes. There were significant variations in the clinical approach of professionals in the team and it was not possible to clearly understand from the records why these decisions had been made,” the CQC report said. 

Government inspectors also found that clinic staff “felt unable to raise concerns without fear of retribution,” and that the service “was not consistently well-led.”

For those who were being seen by the clinic, Kirsty Entwistle, who had been a staff psychologist at GIDS-Leeds until October 2018, wrote in an open letter to the director of the Tavistock clinic, that the young people were being rushed into experimental gender treatments “without having explored or addressed their early adverse experiences.”

The U.K. High Court of Justice ruled against Tavistock in a judicial review brought by Keira Bell, a 23-year-old woman who underwent medicalized gender-transition at the facility during her teen years. Bell said that she was making “brash” decisions at the time and was not capable of giving informed consent to the experimental practices.  

The high court also held that under the Gillick test — the relevant legal standard in the U.K. by which minors are allowed to consent to medicine — under-16s are not mature enough to choose to take drugs to suppress puberty.  

“It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers,” the judges agreed in the ruling. “It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers.”

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