Sandyford clinic pauses trans drugs for new patients under 18

Scotland’s gender identity clinic for children has announced it is pausing the prescription of puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones to new patients.

In the wake of the Cass Review of child gender services in England, which said that giving trans drugs to children is “based on remarkably weak evidence”, the Scottish Government has been under pressure to follow England’s lead by reviewing NHS Scotland’s ‘affirming’ approach to gender treatments and halting the prescription of the life-altering hormones for children.

It had repeatedly refused, saying the report only applies to England, but now the Sandyford clinic in Glasgow has announced that it will no longer prescribe puberty blockers to newly referred under-16s and cross-sex hormones to those aged 16 and 17. However, existing patients will continue to receive the drugs.


The clinic said the announcement “follows research from NHS England and the publication of the Cass Review while we work with the Scottish Government to engage in research with NHS England that will generate evidence of safety and long-term impact for therapies”.

It added: “We are committed to providing the best possible clinical care for young people accessing and understand the distress that gender incongruence can cause.

“While this pause is in place, we will continue to give anyone who is referred into the Young People Gender Service the psychological support that they require while we review the pathways in line with the findings.”

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Meghan Gallacher welcomed the change, saying it should have been made “weeks ago”, and criticised the Government for what she called its “shameful silence and dithering in response to the Cass Review”.

Parallel review

It comes just days after the SNP had said it would not consider closing the clinic, with First Minister Humza Yousaf saying: “I don’t believe that there’s a case to close the Sandyford. The Sandyford provides some exceptional health care to some of those who are the most marginalised and vulnerable, not just young people, but right across the spectrum.”

Health minister Maree Todd also rubbished talk of closing the clinic, claiming the clinicians prescribing the controversial drugs were practising medicine to “very high standards”.

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar said the clinic should not be closed without a thorough investigation, and suggested that the Scottish Government should initiate its own version of the Cass review, although he said there was no need to “reinvent the wheel”.

“If there are individual services that need to be looked at then I don’t think we should be afraid to do that. But in terms of the recommendations in the review, in terms of those broad principles, I think the Scottish government should quickly come forward and [say] how they’re going to respond.”

Also see:

Scot Govt must ‘stop refusing’ to protect young people from trans drugs

Private clinicians who supply trans drugs to under-16s could be ‘struck off’

Tavistock replacements open doors to gender-confused children

NHS advises GPs to shun notorious trans-affirming clinic

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