Former justice minister says HSE review of sending children as young as 7 years to London sex change clinic is a “whitewash” and calls for an independent investigation

Following a review of the UK’s only gender identity clinic, the Tavistock Clinic in London by Dr Hilary Cass, published in March 2022, a decision was taken by the UK government to close the clinic in 2023.

Her report stated that the care of children and teens with gender dysphoria should involve the same ethical, scientific, and professional standards as other forms of clinical care.

233 children and teens as young as seven years old have been referred to the clinic by the HSE since 2012.

Psychiatrist Dr Paul Moran and endocrinologist Prof Donal O’Shea from the National Gender Service (NGS) have long been highly critical of the quality of the work done by Tavistock on Irish children and adolescents referred by the HSE from CHI (Children’s Health Ireland) Crumlin to the clinic.

They raised concerns about the clinic as far back as March 2019 at a meeting to discuss CHI Crumlin’s care for transgender children who were referred to Tavistock.

Last August, Moran and O’Shea along with two other doctors from the NGS met Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and expressed their unease at the HSE decision to continue to use the clinic in spite of the concerns raised by Cass in her interim report several months earlier.

Stephen Donnelly was accompanied by his junior minister Mary Butler and five officials in the department’s headquarters in Miesian Plaza in Dublin.

The draft minutes of the meeting released by the minister’s office failed to record Mary Butler’s promoting the use of an online business called GenderGP.

When the NGS clinicians flagged the omission, the final draft stated: “The NGS clinicians clarified that GenderGP is an unregulated and unsafe service whose founders had been suspended from the General Medical Council in the UK because of this company’s harmful and illegal activities, and that this company is in breach of Irish Medical Council guidelines.”

Following on from this meeting the HSE engaged Dr Orla Healy a Specialist in Public Health Medicine with HSE South to conduct a review of its use of the controversial clinic.

She was commissioned and had her terms of reference set by Colm Henry, the HSE’s chief clinical officer, who played a role in authorising the Tavistock and Crumlin link-up.

Her report was published last month and found “no evidence that hormonal treatment or other physical intervention has been fast-tracked” in Ireland.

Emails released under Freedom of Information to the Sunday Independent show Dr Healy told Karl Neff, the clinical lead at the NGS (National Gender Service) that she would not be acceding to the NGS request that she conduct an audit of all patients referred from CHI Crumlin to Tavistock.

“In no way is the quality or safety of the service being provided at CHI Crumlin being questioned,” Healy wrote to Neff. Instead she relied on verbal “views and assurance” from “colleagues” in CHI Crumlin to determine the safety of the treatments given to children and teens presenting with gender dysphoria.

“With respect, I do not believe that verbal assurances are sufficiently robust as a methodology,” Dr Neff wrote to Healy.

Investigative journalist, Mark Tighe reports in today’s Sunday Independent that former justice minister Charlie Flanagan has written to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly calling for an independent review of the Irish use of Tavistock.

Flanagan reportedly called Healy’s report a “whitewash”.

Mr Flanagan said there was a clear conflict of interest in the HSE reviewing its involvement with Tavistock given that the report was commissioned and its terms of reference were set by Henry who had a role in authorising the Tavistock and Crumlin link-up.

“It seems clear the clinical experts were completely ignored,” Mr Flanagan wrote to the minister. “There are glaring omissions and the terms of reference for the report were totally inadequate.”

Credit must be given to the work of investigative journalist Mark Tighe who has been reporting on this issue for a number of years.