An NHS gender clinic in Scotland is under fire for misleading young people over the effects of experimental puberty-blocking drugs.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that officials at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which manages Sandyford Sexual Health Clinic, were not publicly acknowledging that puberty blockers had long term effects on bone density, growth and brain development.
The clinic only withdrew a leaflet claiming the drugs were “fully reversible” in June last year, despite being aware of research stating the opposite much earlier.
Susan Smith, Director of women’s rights group For Women Scotland, said: “Despite evidence of serious side-effects and a dearth of evidence on the long-term impacts of stunting puberty, clinics have maintained that blockers were safe and fully reversible. The Scottish Government should call a halt to these experiments now.”
In an email exchange last March, a Glasgow health official admitted to civil servants that “uncertainties also exist regarding the effect of puberty suppression on growth and adult height, the psychosocial problem of delayed puberty and possible effects on brain development”.
They highlighted a 2017 study on the issue, yet stated there was “no minimum age that this intervention would be considered”.
Smith commented: “The extreme youth of children considered for this pathway, as revealed in these documents, should worry anyone who understands child development.”
In December, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde insisted it would continue giving puberty blockers to children, despite the High Court for England and Wales ruling that children cannot generally give their consent.
The health board dismissed the ruling as “an English decision” and said its practice of giving the drugs to children in Scotland “will remain as is”.
Earlier this month, research by NHS England’s gender identity clinic for children revealed that almost all young people who are given puberty blockers subsequently end up taking cross-sex hormones.