You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Donnelly pressed over use of UK clinic for children with gender-identity issues

PA Media logoPA Media 25/12/2022 By Cate McCurry, PA
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was asked for meetings to discuss the Tavistock clinic (PA) © Niall Carson Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was asked for meetings to discuss the Tavistock clinic (PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly received urgent requests from transgender groups to meet him about the HSE’s ongoing use of the UK’s Tavistock clinic for Irish children with gender-identity issues.

Documents released under a Freedom of Information request show Mr Donnelly was contacted by a representative from Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and an individual, whose name was redacted, asking to meet the minister.

The requests came in August this year following concerns about the Tavistock clinic in the UK, which provided gender dysphoria services to Irish children and teenagers.

Young people were referred to the UK clinic due to the lack of services in Ireland.

It emerged earlier this year that the HSE would continue to use Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service despite a critical report and a recommendation that it should close.

In response, four senior clinicians from the National Gender Service requested an urgent meeting with Mr Donnelly to “discuss the risks this presents to Irish children”, it said in a letter.

Noah Halpin, national healthcare officer at the TENI, also contacted the minister’s department requesting to be included in the meeting between the department and the National Gender Service.

He said that as Ireland’s only transgender representative body, it requested to be part of the meeting, adding that it would be “counter-productive” to carry out the meeting without the “very community that care pathways are being discussed for”.

The department wrote back to say they would be in contact about arranging a meeting with the minister.

The department also received a request from an individual requesting a meeting about the continued use of the clinic, and in light of Mr Donnelly’s meeting with the four senior clinicians.

Data shows there have been 234 referrals of Irish children and young people to the UK clinic over the last 10 years.

In July, it was confirmed that the NHS is to close the gender identity clinic for children and young people.

The HSE has plans to develop its own service in Ireland and it has finalised the premises and recruited multidisciplinary staff.

However, documents from the department show that the post of a consultant psychiatrist to manage the service has been advertised twice without success.

The HSE said it is working on different options to resolve the problem and will continue to try to recruit appropriately trained staff so it can develop its own service in Ireland.

It added that the diagnosis of gender dysphoria is dependent on strict criteria as assessed by mental health professionals.

Around 40% of young people with gender dysphoria will be eligible for consideration for medical intervention.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon