At the end of July 2022, following further advice from Dr Hilary Cass, NHS England announced that it would be commissioning two ‘Early Adopter’ sites as a first step towards a new regional model of care for children and young people needing support with their gender identity development. These will be led by specialist children’s hospitals. One will be based in London and one in the North West.
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the endocrine teams based at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will continue to deliver the GIDS until these are set up and will play a vital role in supporting both Early Adopters as they establish the new services, using their extensive experience and expertise of working with this patient group.
Reporting around this announcement in the media and online has included a number of inaccuracies. Dr Cass has since published a blog, titled ‘Beyond the headlines’, in which she made the purpose of her review and the rationale for the new model clear:
“The purpose of my Review is to be forward-looking and define what a safe system of care should look like, and how to support that care with the best evidence.”
“In my interim report I said that a 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. The purpose of the regionalised model is to improve access, networked care, research capacity and workforce development.”
She also writes:
“The staff working at GIDS have demonstrated compassion and a strong professional commitment towards their patient population. Their experience and continued engagement will be essential in ensuring a smooth progression to the new service model.”
We know that our patients and their families have had many questions about the future of their care since the announcement. A national transformation programme has been established to oversee a smooth and seamless transition of patients to the new Early Adopter services. We are working closely with our partners across the new services and our commissioners, to ensure that patient care is not interrupted wherever possible. All parties appreciate the complexity of the change, and the need to minimise disruption and any additional anxiety for patients.
The Early Adopter services will be commissioned against an interim service specification. NHS England will launch a public consultation on this interim specification, and we will update our website with information about contributing to that consultation as soon as we have the information.
The Tavistock and Portman runs over 30 different clinical services, for young people and adults, in Camden, across London and beyond. We would like to reassure patients and services users that we support in our other clinical services, including our adult Gender Identity Clinic: your care is unaffected by this announcement, and your service will continue to operate as normal.