2005: Sue Evans, a nurse at Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), warned that youngsters were being assessed too quickly and their treatment was influenced by transgender rights groups.
2009: GIDS became a national service responsible for treating all children in England with gender and identity issues. Demand skyrocketed, with fewer than 100 patients referred to the clinic in 2010, jumping more than 2,500 by 2018.
2018: A senior member of staff told the trust’s board that children were wrongly fast-tracked into changing their gender — with the mental health and social reasons behind their wishes being overlooked
February 2019: An internal report by Dr David Bell, who was on Tavistock’s board, set out how patients were suffering ‘long term damage’ because GIDS could not ‘stand up to the pressure’ from ‘highly politicised’ campaigners and families.
February 2019: Consultant psychotherapist Dr Marcus Evans — who had worked at the trust for decades and whose wife Sue first raised concerns about its practices in 2005 — resigned in protest at the Tavistock’s response to doctors who raised the alarm.
July 2019: Dr Kirsty Entwhisle, a psychologist at GIDS Leeds hub, went public with accusations that staff misled patients and made decisions about young people’s ‘bodies and lives’ without ‘robust evidence’.
October 2019: Former GIDS nurse Sue Evans and an anonymous mother of a 15-year-old GIDS patient launched the first legal action against Tavistock. They claimed the trust should not prescribe puberty blockers to children who could not give informed consent.
January 2020: Keira Bell, who was prescribed the drugs when she was 16-years-old, replaced Mrs Evans as lead claimant. She underwent breast-removal surgery but regretted transitioning, claiming she was given puberty blockers after ‘superficial conversations’ with social workers’ and was receiving testosterone shots a year later’.
December 2020: In response to the claim, the High Court decided that under-16s could not give informed consent to the treatment.
2020: NHS England asks paediatrician Dr Hillary Cass to conduct a review into Tavistock.
September 2021: Tavistock appealed the decision and it was overturned by the Court of Appeal, which claimed the previous ruling was ‘inappropriate’ and placed patients, parents and medics in a ‘very difficult position’.
September 2021: Sonia Appleby, the trust’s safeguarding lead, awarded £20,000 by tribunal after claiming trust managers tried to stop her from carrying out her role when staff raised concerns.
January 2021: The UK’s health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, gave GIDS the lowest rating it can, ‘inadequate’, after finding ‘significant concerns’ about how it operates. It demanded improvement.
March 2022: In an interim report, Dr Cass hit out at the lack of ‘open discussion’ at the trust about its treatment, which was not subject to quality controls. She found other mental health issues were ‘overshadowed’ in favour of gender identity issues when children were referred to GIDS. She called for a ‘fundamentally different service model’ and ‘rapid’ research on the use of the drugs after she found ‘insufficient evidence’ on their benefits.
July 2022: In a letter to the NHS, Dr Cass called for regional centres to be commissioned for gender identity treatment, with ‘strong links’ to mental health services and academic hubs that conduct ongoing research.
July 2022: The NHS confirmed that GIDS will be replaced by regional centres at existing children’s hospitals, which will provide more holistic care with ‘strong links to mental health services’.