David Bell: Tavistock gender clinic whistleblower faces the sack The Times 05.12.20

The original article is here.

A senior psychiatrist who warned that a national gender identity clinic was failing vulnerable children faces disciplinary action by an NHS trust.

David Bell, 70, a former staff governor at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, sent an internal report to its leaders in 2018, urging them to suspend all experimental hormone treatment for children who wished to change gender until there was better evidence of the outcomes.

It included testimonies from ten clinicians, who warned that children with complex histories were being referred for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones after a few sessions and without proper investigation of their cases. Children were being prescribed the experimental drugs under pressure from transgender rights groups, the report claimed.

The staff had approached Dr Bell, whose role as staff governor on the council of governors was to pass such concerns up the chain of command. His report concluded that the clinic in north London, known as GIDS, was “not fit for purpose” and called for a suspension of referrals “as a matter of urgency”.

“The GIDS service as it now functions is not fit for purpose and children’s needs are being met in a woefully inadequate manner and some will live on with the damaging consequences,” the senior consultant psychiatrist wrote.

The clinic continued to refer more than a hundred children for puberty blockers — the first stage in transitioning gender, which almost always leads to irreversible cross-sex hormones. Their outcomes are unknown. Thousands remain on the waiting list.

The High Court put a stop to the referrals this week. In a ruling that chimed with many of the key points of Dr Bell’s report, three judges found that children did not have the capacity to consent to experimental treatment that could lead to infertility and impaired sexual function later in life. GIDS announced it would be stopping all referrals until further notice.

Dr Bell now faces disciplinary action. The trust declined to give reasons for the proceedings, saying it could not comment on internal staff matters.

On a crowdfunding page to raise funds for his legal costs, Dr Bell said the action was related to his “speaking and writing on the subject of gender dysphoria”. Dr Bell, a former president of the British Psychoanalytic Society, is due to retire next month after 24 years as a consultant psychiatrist at the trust. He declined to comment.

Marcus Evans, one of the trust’s governors who resigned in February last year, said the treatment of Dr Bell “tells you everything you need to know about a threatening mindset that does not allow dissent”. He added: “They wanted to make David Bell’s report go away. Rather than take the concerns seriously they published a notice on the trust website questioning Dr Bell’s credentials to write the report. That’s why I resigned — I realised the trust management were not serious in wanting to open up and examine what was going on in this highly controversial service.”

The trust declined to respond to Mr Evans’s comments. It said that an “action plan was approved and is being implemented” after Dr Bell’s report. “The service is safe and all work we undertake is commissioned and regulated by NHS England under strict guidance. The service has a high level of reported satisfaction,” a trust spokesman said.

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