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The NHS must fulfil its duty to young people

The NHS commissions Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) to provide specialist assessment, consultation and care for children and young people to help reduce the distressing feelings of a mismatch between their assigned sex and their gender identity.

The NHS has a legal obligation to see those referred to Gender Identity Development Service within 18 weeks. But the average waiting time is 18 months. In some shocking reports, young people are waiting for up to four years for a first appointment. Not to get what the NHS describes as fully reversible puberty blockers but to begin the process of being assessed for eligibility for puberty blockers.

Children are losing the opportunity to be seen within a window in which they can secure effective treatment. They are, in practice, being denied access to treatments which are correlated with improved mental health and reduced suicide risk.

Whatever your views about the right treatment regime for young people with gender dysphoria, it can’t be right that they face lengthy waiting lists just to have a first appointment with a specialist. That’s why Good Law Project and one of the teenagers affected have initiated a legal challenge to ensure NHS England meets its obligation to children and young people

This case will be our first case of many to protect this most disadvantaged – and discriminated against – of communities.

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