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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S5W-33706

  • Asked by: Murdo Fraser, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Date lodged: 3 December 2020
  • Current status: Answered by Jeane Freeman on 7 January 2021


To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the decision in the case of R Quincy Bell and A v. Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust & others in the English High Court, what steps it will now take to review the provision of services for children with gender dysphoria, including the prescription of puberty blockers.


Whilst the ruling from the High Court on 2 December has no formal status in Scotland we are examining it with intent. The law in Scotland on the capacity of young people to consent to medical treatment is different to that in England and Wales. Under the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991, a person under 16 can consent to a medical procedure or treatment where the qualified medical practitioner attending them considers they are capable of understanding the nature and possible consequences of that procedure or treatment.

NHS England has announced that Dr Hilary Cass OBE, former President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, will lead an independent review into gender identity services for children and young people. The review includes examination of the issues around the prescription of puberty blocking and cross-sex hormone drugs to young people. It is expected that the review will report its findings on those issues in early 2021 with wider findings to follow later in the year.

NHS Scotland and the National Gender Identity Clinical Network Scotland are working with services to best meet the needs of young people in Scotland. Though some of this work was paused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now in a position where we can start to progress it once again. This will include work to review current pathways, improve waiting times and ensure that trans young people and all young people exploring their gender identity can access appropriate care in a timely manner.

We do not look to duplicate the work of the review in Scotland and will closely consider the findings of the review when they become available early next year.