A top psychiatrist who exposed inadequacies at England’s NHS gender identity clinic for children has spoken of the resistance he faced from senior staff when he questioned poor clinical practice.
Dr David Bell made the revelations in an interview with The Observer, following his retirement as a staff governor at the Trust which oversees the work of the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS).
The former governor at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust was subject to disciplinary proceedings after he reported clinicians’ concerns over patient welfare in an internal report in 2018.
Dr Bell told The Observer that hospital management were defensive after he raised concerns about the way vulnerable children diagnosed with gender dysphoria were being treated by the clinic.
When he requested data from GIDS to help in the compilation of his report, Dr Bell said that he got a “rather unpleasant” letter from the Trust’s chief executive Paul Jenkins, informing him “GIDS was very busy” and its staff were not obliged to answer him.
On submission of the finished document, Dr Bell said hospital management were obstructive and hostile. The Trust subsequently threatened him with disciplinary action and sought to silence him.
obstructive and hostile
The consultant psychiatrist argues that “all the grounds” for proceedings against him were in connection with his “activities as a whistleblower”. Plans for a hearing were dropped prior to Dr Bell’s retirement in January.
According to the interview, Dr Bell felt the High Court ruling in December – which ruled under 16s could not give genuine consent to hormone blockers – vindicated his report.
Last year, the High Court ruled in favour of detransitioner Keira Bell, who brought a case against GIDS after she was given hormone blockers and cross-sex hormones as a teenager by the clinic.
The specialist expressed astonishment that little had changed at GIDS as a consequence of the court’s decision. He said: “Ordinarily, heads would roll. The management structure has changed slightly, but it feels like window-dressing.”
Dr Bell remains concerned at the unexplained increase in the percentage of girls being referred to the clinic, and is anxious too little time is spent exploring the roles of anorexia, autism and depression in gender dysphoria.
Commenting on Government plans to ban so called conversion therapy, Dr Bell expressed fear transgender activists may use such a law to pressurise clinicians into accepting the declared gender of patients without proper assessment.
He told the newspaper that preventing open discussion on the matter of gender identity would be nothing less than tyranny.
He said: “It’s about free thinking, the kind that will result in better outcomes for all young people, whether transgender or not.”