Therapist raised alert at troubling practices at Tavistock clinic The Times 12.10.19

The original article is here.

Sue Evans worked at the Tavistock Clinic for years but grew so concerned that she became a whistleblower. She was a mental health nurse and psychotherapist in the centre’s gender identity development service between 2003 and 2007 and found the pace at which children were assessed and referred for hormone-blocking therapy was much faster than in other areas of children’s mental health.

Many children, mostly girls, would arrive at the clinic adamant that they wanted to change gender but when she allowed them more consultations to explore their reasoning, other factors would emerge. Some of her patients subsequently changed their minds.

Ms Evans, 62, reported her alarm at the speed of assessment and feared that treatment plans were being influenced by groups such as Mermaids, a transgender advocacy charity. She left her part-time job at the clinic and now works in private practice but remained troubled by what she saw, particularly as the number of children treated at the clinic increased from 468 in 2014 to 2,519 last year.

She added: “There is huge pressure on the service to address the waiting list, which then means the time allowed for consultation with the children and their families is reduced to maybe three to six sessions before referring for hormone treatment.”

Her husband, Marcus Evans, was a psychoanalyst in the Tavistock’s adult service and later became a governor of the trust but quit over its response to a complaint raised by another governor.

David Bell, who sat on the Tavistock’s board, wrote a report saying it was not fit for purpose and not taking into account other factors that may be behind a child’s wish to transition.

Another former employee, Kirsty Entwhistle, who worked as a psychologist at the centre’s service in Leeds, wrote an open letter in July saying that staff were too quick to assess a young person and that clinicians who disagreed were branded “transphobic”.

Ms Evans said: “When you work in the area of gender dysphoria you begin to see that many of these children have other areas of concern or difficulty, such as depression, autism, trauma, childhood abuse, internalised homophobia, relationship difficulties, social isolation and so on.”

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust said: “It is not appropriate for us to comment in detail in advance of any proposed legal proceedings. The GIDS is one of the longest-established services of its type in the world with an international reputation for being cautious and considered. Our clinical interventions are laid out in nationally-set service specifications. NHS England, monitor our service very closely. The service has a high level of reported satisfaction and was rated good by the Care Quality Commission.”

An NHS spokesman said: “The priority has to be to deliver safe and effective treatment, so the NHS has recently confirmed we are reviewing all available evidence so as to publish an updated service specification next year.”