A governor of the trust overseeing the NHS’s only gender identity clinic for children has resigned in protest at its poor response to concerns that it was not doing enough to protect the youngsters.
In a statement, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust dismissed a report describing “very serious ethical concerns” as “unsubstantiated” and accused David Bell, the man who compiled the report, of having “no expertise in this field”.
But Marcus Evans, a consultant psychotherapist at the trust for more than thirty years, said the trust’s claims were “not true”.
children were making life-changing decisions with “inadequate” examination and consent
‘Climate of fear’
Evans pointed out that Dr Bell, a former president of the British Psychoanalytic Society, had “one of the biggest reputations in the Tavistock, yet he’s treated like he’s some sort of charlatan in order to defend their position”.
He added that the trust had created a “climate of fear” among staff, and that it was trying to “dismiss or undermine” serious concerns raised by staff.
The trust’s statement has now been removed from its website.
Dr Bell’s report, which was given to the trust late last year, said children were making life-changing decisions with “inadequate” examination and consent.
In some cases, children were reported to seek transition as a “solution” following abuse or bereavement, but their cases were not properly explored by clinicians afraid of being branded ‘transphobic’ if they question a child’s “rehearsed” self-description.
Tavistock commissioned an internal investigation, conducted by Medical Director Dr Dinesh Sinha, who found staff caseloads to be “excessive” and several staff were unsure if children properly understood “issues such as fertility and its impact on their adult lives”.
But Tavistock’s “one-sided” statement made no mention of these concerns.
children were reported to seek transition as a “solution” following abuse or bereavement
Now 25 other doctors at the trust have signed a letter seen by The Sunday Times, protesting against the way their concerns have been handled.
They said the attitude of managers at the trust was “not acceptable”.
In a separate letter to The Sunday Times, 16 academics and clinicians from leading universities similarly hit out at Tavistock’s treatment of its own staff.
They said: “We are disappointed that the trust has responded by apparently attempting to discredit Bell – a consultant psychiatrist with four decades of experience – rather than addressing the serious problems raised by his report.
“We call on the Tavistock and Portman Trust to encourage scientific investigation and ethical debate on this complex issue.
“The health of thousands of children is at stake.”