NHS England to stop prescribing puberty blockers

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

The decision comes after a review found there was “not enough evidence” they are safe or effective. Puberty blockers, which pause the physical changes of puberty, will now only be available as part of research. It comes weeks before an independent review into gender identity services in England is due to be published.

An interim report from the review, published in 2022 by Dr Hilary Cass, had earlier found there were “gaps in evidence” around the drugs and called for a transformation in the model of care for children with gender-related distress.

Dr Cass’s review follows a sharp rise in referrals to the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which saw an increase from 250 per year to over 5,000 in 2022.
Puberty suppressing hormones – more commonly known as puberty blockers – work by suppressing the release of hormones that cause puberty and are often prescribed to children questioning their gender as a way of stopping physical changes such as breast development or facial hair. Fewer than 100 young people in England are currently prescribed puberty blockers by the NHS. They will all able to continue their treatment.

NHS England held a public consultation on their usage and last year introduced an interim policy which stated they should only be given as part of research trials or in “exceptional circumstances”. The BBC understands that the new policy, confirmed on Tuesday, will not allow them to be prescribed “routinely” outside of a research trial, but that individual clinicians can still apply to have the drugs funded for patients on a case-by-case basis.


Article URL : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-68549091