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NHS trust wins appeal over teen puberty blockers ruling

NHS trust wins appeal over teen puberty blockers ruling
An NHS Trust has won a Court of Appeal bid to overturn the landmark ruling around the use of puberty-blocking drugs for children and teenagers with gender dysphoria.

An NHS Trust has won a Court of Appeal bid to overturn the landmark ruling around the use of puberty-blocking drugs for children and teenagers with gender dysphoria.

The successful appeal overturns a 2020 High Court ruling which found it was “highly unlikely” that children under 13 could consent to a hormone-blocking treatment that delays puberty. på samme måte, the court said it was “very doubtful” that teenagers aged 14 eller 15 would be able to understand the long-term consequences of consenting to the treatment.

The appeal was brought by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the UK’s only gender identity development service specifically for children.

In today’s ruling, the Court of Appeal found that the guidance issued by the High Court was inappropriate and determined that doctors should use their expert judgement to decide whether their patients can properly consent.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, alongside Sir Geoffrey Vos and Lady Justice King, ruled: “The court was not in a position to generalise about the capability of persons of different ages to understand what is necessary for them to be competent to consent to the administration of puberty blockers.”

The High Court’s ruling “placed patients, parents and clinicians in a very difficult position”, sa de.

The original case was brought by two women – Keira Bell, a 24-year-old woman who began taking a hormone-blocking treatment when she was 16, and later “detransitioned”, and “Mrs A”, the mother of a teenager who is currently on the waiting list for treatment.

During the two-day appeal, the NHS trust’s lawyers argued that the High Court’s ruling was “inconsistent” with the long-standing concept that teenagers and children may be able to consent to their own medical treatment. This line of thinking follows a 1980s appeal over access to birth control pills for those under 16 years of age.

Jeremy Hyam QC, the lawyer representing Ms Bell and Mrs A in the appeal, argued that policies and procedures at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust “failed to ensure, or were insufficient to ensure, proper consent was being given by children who commenced on puberty blockers”.

The court also heard that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust does not, seg selv, provide puberty blockers, but refers patients to the University College London Hospitals Trust, and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, who then directly prescribe the hormone-blocking treatments.

Within the appeal, John McKendrick, QC for the University College London Hospitals and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trusts, told the court that the median age for consent to puberty blockers among young people was 14.6-years-old for those attending the London trust, and 15.9-years-old for Leeds.

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