First Minister does not rule out ban on puberty blockers

Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government would not take an ‘inordinate’ amount of time considering the Cass Review.

Craig Paton
Tuesday 16 April 2024 09:49 BST
The First Minister spoke about the Cass Report (Gareth Fuller/PA)
The First Minister spoke about the Cass Report (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)

Scotland’s First Minister did not rule out banning puberty blockers as he said the Government will not take an “inordinate” amount of time on the recommendations of a major gender care review.

The Cass Review – named after its head, Dr Hilary Cass – was released last week and found the evidence base for gender care in young people had been thin and children had been let down by a “toxic” public discourse around gender.

The Scottish Government has been under pressure to rule out the routine use of puberty blockers – for which the review said there was “not enough evidence” – as has been done in the NHS in England.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday, Humza Yousaf said: “Every recommendation that Dr Cass makes will be considered as part of that consideration of the entire report including the recommendations that she makes in relation to puberty blockers, and that is one element of the recommendations that Dr Cass makes.

“There’s a number of recommendations – all of them will be given consideration.”

While the recommendation would be considered, the prescription of treatments should be one made by clinicians rather than politicians, the First Minister added.

The Scottish Government has come under pressure to scrap the use of puberty blockers, with SNP MP Joanna Cherry, Alba Party MSP Ash Regan and Scottish Tory deputy leader Meghan Gallacher calling for a review.

That consideration, he said, would be as swift as possible.

“I promise that we won’t be taking an inordinate amount of time to consider,” he said.

“But it is right when there is a report of almost 400 pages when you include the appendices, this is a report that we should take some time over, that clinicians should take their time over when it comes to deciding the way forward for some our most vulnerable, marginalised young people.”

The Tavistock Clinic in London – which offered gender services – was closed this year, but the First Minister said Scotland’s hub at the Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow would not suffer the same fate.

“I don’t believe there is a case to close the Sandyford,” he said.

“Sandyford provides, we know, some exceptional health care to some of those who are the most marginalised and vulnerable… not just young people, but we know, right across the spectrum.

“At the same time, one of the key recommendations is around perhaps more regional health centres.

“So that’s something that is worth consideration, worth exploring and we’ll take some time to consider that in relation to Dr Cass’s review.”

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