NHS to close Hampstead-based children's gender identity clinic

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: PA/Aaron Chown

The NHS is shutting down its gender identity clinic for children at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

The contract for the gender identity service at the Belsize Lane-based trust will be brought to a close, the NHS said.

It said it intends to build a “more resilient service” by expanding provision, and will establish two services led by specialist children’s hospitals in London and the North West.

The NHS aims for these to be fully up and running by spring 2023, following consultation.

The move follows recommendations from Dr Hilary Cass, who is leading an independent review into gender identity services for children and young people.

She said there was a need to move away from a model of a sole provider, saying: "It has become increasingly clear that a single specialist provider model is not a safe or viable long-term option in view of concerns about lack of peer review and the ability to respond to the increasing demand."

Last year the trust, whose clinic is in Finchley Road, had 3,500 referrals. In addition, a support service set up by NHS England recorded over 1,500 GP referrals.

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In January 2021, the trust's Gender Identity Development Service (CIDS) was given an "inadequate" rating by the Care Quality Commission. In her report, Dr Cass said the trust has been working to address issues, but that the waiting list "requires a system-wide response".

In a statement this week, the trust said the level of need "cannot and should not be met by a single highly specialist national service" and that the changes should increase capacity and improve access to care.

In London there will be a new partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital and Evelina London Children’s Hospital, with mental health support provided by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

In the North West a service will be formed as a partnership between Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

The Tavistock said GIDS will have a role in the national transformation programme.

In a statement it said: "Over the last couple of years, our staff in GIDS have worked tirelessly and under intense scrutiny in a difficult climate, delivering not just high-quality patient care during a pandemic, but an entire service transformation programme. We are proud of them and thankful for their unrelenting patient focus and extraordinary efforts."