Lawyers leading a claim against a gender-identity clinic in Britain have said that there could be as many as 1,000 clients who will join the action, reports the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales.
The Gazette says that international firm Pogust Goodhead confirmed last week that it was pursuing the action against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust after the closure of the Tavistock clinic was announced.
A review by paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass into children’s gender services had criticised the care of teenage patients who had expressed an interest in gender-transitioning.
The interim Cass Report earlier this year said that, because the specialist service had evolved rapidly and organically in response to demand, the clinical approach and overall service design “has not been subjected to some of the normal quality controls that are typically applied when new or innovative treatments are introduced”.
The report recommended a "fundamentally different service model".
The Pogust Goodhead clinical-negligence claim alleges that young teens were rushed into taking life-altering puberty blockers, causing long-term and sometimes irreversible damage.
The Gazette quoted Tom Goodhead (global managing partner and chief executive) as saying: “These children have suffered life-changing and, in some cases, irreversible effects of the treatment they received, which has resulted in long-term physical and psychological consequences for them.
“We must not shut down debate on account of a fear of discussing gender identity, and those responsible must be held accountable. We anticipate that at least 1,000 clients will join this action.
“It is vital that those children and young adolescents have access to justice. That is why we are taking this case,” he said.
A spokesperson for Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust told the Gazette that they had not heard from Pogust Goodhead about this matter, but that it would be inappropriate to comment on any current or potential legal proceeding.
HSE defends decision
The Tavistock Centre, Britain’s only dedicated gender-identity clinic for children and young people, is set to close by next spring, and be replaced with regional centres.
In Ireland, the Health Service Executive (HSE) last week defended its relationship with the clinic, to which it has referred 238 children since 2015. Its comments followed concerns expressed by some doctors.
Dr Siobhán Ni Bhriain (National Clinical Director for Integrated Care within the HSE) told RTÉ that it would continue to refer while Tavistock was still open.
"We will monitor extremely closely, and we have for quite a number of years been exploring other options," she added.