Children will no longer be prescribed puberty blockers at gender identity clinics, NHS England has confirmed.

Puberty blockers, which pause the physical changes of puberty allowing young people to explore their gender identity and consider medically transitioning, will now only be available as part of clinical research trials.

The Government said it welcomed the "landmark decision", adding it would help ensure care is based on evidence and is in the "best interests of the child", Sky News reported.

The decision follows a public consultation on the issue and an interim policy, and comes after NHS England commissioned an independent review of gender identity services for children under 18 in 2020.

The review followed a sharp rise in referrals to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) - a specialised service for young people experiencing difficulties in the development of their gender identity - run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, in Swiss Cottage, which is closing at the end of March.

In 2021/22, there were more than 5,000 referrals to the GIDS, compared to fewer than 250 a decade earlier.

In 2021 the Tavistock NHS trust was ordered to pay £20,000 compensation to an employee who raised concerns about the safety of children at the centre in Belsize Lane.

Dr Hilary Cass, who led the review, published an interim report in February 2022 saying there was a need to move away from one unit and recommended regional options.

She also said there was a lack of long-term evidence on what happens to young people prescribed blockers - adding that GIDS had not gathered routine and consistent data, meaning it was "not possible to accurately track the outcomes and pathways that children and young people take through the service".

After the GIDS closes, two new NHS services will open in early April, situated in Great Ormond Street Hospital and Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

Around 5,000 children and young people are currently on the waiting list for referral to the new clinics, with 250 patients expected to be transferred to them when they are open.

Currently there are fewer than 100 children on puberty blockers, who will continue their treatment at Leeds and University College London Hospital.

Taking blockers early in puberty may mean less treatment or surgery in the future. However, critics have raised concerns over issues including consent, mental health risks and bone density development.