DAC Beachcroft wins high-profile appeal on behalf of England’s only gender identity service for children and young people

DAC Beachcroft wins high-profile appeal on behalf of England’s only gender identity service for children and young people's Tags

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DAC Beachcroft wins high-profile appeal on behalf of England’s only gender identity service for children and young people

Published 17 September 2021

International law firm DAC Beachcroft has advised England’s only NHS gender identity service for children and young people on its successful appeal regarding decisions about patient treatment.

The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), run by Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, is a service for children, young people and their families who experience difficulties in the development of their gender identity.

In December last year, in Quincy Bell and Mrs A v The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the High Court held that the GIDS practice of referring patients for consideration of treatment with puberty blockers was not unlawful, and that the information provided to patients was adequate to form the basis of informed consent. Nevertheless, it made a declaration as to the relevant information that a child under 16 would have to understand in order to have competence to consent to the administration of puberty blocking drugs. It also gave guidance on the likelihood of children in different age ranges ever being competent to consent to treatment with puberty blockers. In practice, the effect of this was that a court intervention would almost always be required before treatment of a child with puberty blockers.

Today, 17 September 2021, the Court of Appeal has overturned the December ruling. The new ruling affirms that it is for doctors, not judges, to decide on the capacity of under-16s to consent to medical treatment, and that the Court should not have given generalised guidance about the capability of persons of different ages to understand what was necessary for them to competently consent to the administration of puberty blockers.

Alistair Robertson, partner at DAC Beachcroft, comments on the ruling, “This is a very reassuring decision, which re-affirms the key principle that competence should be assessed individually, by a patient’s clinician.”

DAC Beachcroft provides innovative and practical support to more than 300 independent and public sector healthcare clients to assist them in delivering high-quality, safe patient care. As advisers to the health sector and the NHS since its inception in 1948, the firm is recognised for quality insight and outstanding commitment to client service. This knowledge and advice is the aggregate of over 250 experts working across 11 locations in the UK, with access to 32 offices across the globe.

In September 2021 DAC Beachcroft was recognised for its outstanding support across the health sector, picking up two awards at the 2021 HealthInvestor Awards: one for ‘Legal Adviser of the Year – Public’ and the other for ‘Legal Adviser of the Year – Private’.