Cass Review: MSPs demand clarity from Humza Yousaf on future of Scotland services for transgender children

Children’s committee writes to First Minister amid fall-out from Cass review

First Minister Humza Yousaf has been urged by a group of MSPs to urgently clarify the Government’s response to the Cass Review, and to order a comprehensive impact assessment into services for transgender children in Scotland.

The move, by Holyrood’s education, children and young people committee, adds to the pressure on SNP ministers to set out their plans. It emerged on Thursday the NHS in Scotland had replicated a decision south of the border to pause the prescribing of puberty blockers.

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The Sandyford clinic in Glasgow, the only service of its kind in Scotland, also said new patients aged 16 or 17 would no longer receive other hormone treatments until they were 18.

First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: John DevlinFirst Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: John Devlin
First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: John Devlin

A review for NHS England, led by Dr Hilary Cass, recently concluded the rationale for early puberty suppression “remains unclear”, with “weak evidence regarding the impact on gender dysphoria, mental or psychosocial health”.

In a letter to the First Minister, education committee convener Sue Webber said: “Clarity is urgently required as to how the Scottish Government intends to take forward the report’s findings in a Scottish context. The committee is aware that this is an evolving situation and notes the changes to arrangements for new patients accessing puberty blocking medication in Scotland which were announced yesterday.

"However, the committee recognises that the report raises many other complex, and sometimes competing, children’s rights considerations, which require urgent exploration.”

Ms Webber added: “The committee believes a comprehensive Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment should be undertaken to ensure these matters are explored fully and to ensure the rights of all children and young people across Scotland are safeguarded.

"Further, the committee believes that a clear timeline should be provided for a Scottish response to the Cass Review, so that children and young people, parents/carers and clinicians can be reassured that the significant issues raised by Dr Cass will be fully considered and acted upon in Scotland without delay.”

Earlier this week, committee members had quizzed Nicola Killean, the children’s commissioner for Scotland, for her response to the report. She said youngsters required “maximum support” amid what had become an “inflamed” debate, and that she had no “fixed view” on puberty blockers.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.



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