(CP) An NHS gender clinic is facing a class-action lawsuit from people who experienced adverse effects from what a lawyer leading the legal action describes as possibly one of the "largest medical negligence scandals of all time."
The law firm Pogust Goodhead has launched a website featuring a "lawyer bot" designed to help people "investigate a claim involving treatment received and Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) provided by the Tavistock Centre." The firm is pursuing a group litigation order against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London.
People who received gender transition services at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust as a minor have the option to fill out the form, as do guardians of such patients.
"Following concerns raised by young people, parents, and professionals working at GIDS about the services provided, NHS England commissioned an independent review to assess how children and young people with gender dysphoria are being supported by the service," a Wednesday statement from the law firm states.
"Since the interim review was published, a number of service attendees have spoken publicly about their concerns that they were misdiagnosed."
Pogust Goodhead asserts that "those that had taken masculinising or feminising hormones are now left to live with the irreversible and life-changing consequences." The law firm acknowledged that while "the long-term effects are unknown," many who sought treatment at Tavistock continue to suffer psychological repercussions.
Barrister Thomas Goodhead of Pogust Goodhead told The Times that the firm anticipates that "at least 1,000 clients" will join the class-action lawsuit his firm is spearheading against the clinic.
"It's hard to put a precise number on it now, but we ran over 25 very large class actions in our firm," he said in an interview with Times Radio. "We've got decades and decades of experience in the size of these groups that sign up."
He predicted that litigation against Tavistock would reveal "one of the largest medical negligence scandals of all time."
The NHS recently ordered Tavistock gender clinic to close following the publication of a review determining that the gender clinic's "clinical approach and overall service design has not been subject to some of the normal quality controls that are typically applied when new or innovative treatments are introduced."
The review also concluded that the "single specialist provider model is not a safe or viable long-term option in view of concerns about lack of peer review and the ability to respond to the increasing demand."
Dr Hilary Cass, a former president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health and former chair of the British Academy of Child Disability, headed the review.
The findings of that review were published in an interim report, which expressed concern about the "affirmative, non-exploratory approach, often driven by child and parent expectations" at the clinic and the lack of a "standardised approach to assessment or progression through the process."
The Cass report also noted that once an adolescent was "identified as having gender-related distress, other important healthcare issues that would normally be managed by local services could sometimes be overlooked." The report cited testimony from clinic staff who felt "pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach" they viewed as "at odds with the standard process of clinical assessment and diagnosis that they have been trained to undertake in all other clinical encounters."
Sajid Javid, who served as secretary of state for health and social care under Boris Johnson before resigning earlier this year, characterized the order for Tavistock to close as "welcome news and absolutely the right decision based on the independent evidence gathered by Dr Hilary Cass."
Concerns about the ethics and practices of Tavistock date back to long before Pogust Goodhead began pursuing class-action litigation against the gender clinic.
Between 2017 and 2019, a social worker at the clinic repeatedly raised questions about the "rogue medics" embraced by her employer, specifically referring to the prescription of experimental drugs as puberty blockers for youth with gender dysphoria. She received $27,000 in damages after a court concluded that she faced improper retaliation from Tavistock for sharing her concerns.
Additionally, the Care Quality Commission awarded Tavistock an "inadequate" rating in 2021, citing its "overwhelming caseloads, deficient record-keeping and poor leadership." The Telegraph reported that since 2009, about 20,000 children have been referred to Tavistock. The 5,000 referrals to the clinic between 2021 and 2022 constituted a dramatic increase from the 250 referrals a decade earlier.
Keira Bell, a "detransitioner" who once identified as a member of the opposite sex and underwent hormone therapy but has returned to identifying with her biological sex, is a prominent critic of Tavistock and gender transitions for youth.
Bell was a claimant in a lawsuit filed against the clinic and maintains that minors cannot "consent to the use of powerful and experimental hormone drugs like I did."
Goodhead said that the topic of gender transition services "has been very much taboo in the public sphere until quite recently."
"There is a very poor quality of data," Goodhead said. "The percentage of those who have undergone these treatment pathways who subsequently detransitioned or who regret it or long-term evidence in respect of the effect of puberty blockers and then people almost inevitably continue on to sex hormone treatments is still unknown."
Concerns about the long-term effects of puberty-blocking drugs and other gender transition services for minors have spread to other countries. A hospital in Sweden recently shut down the prescription of puberty blockers to children with gender dysphoria, citing such concerns. In the United States, Alabama, Arizona and Arkansas have implemented bans on medicalized gender transition procedures for minors while the Texas Commissioner of Family and Protective Services has classified such procedures as "child abuse."
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