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by Kirsteen Paterson
21 March 2024
Humza Yousaf under pressure on puberty blockers for children

First Minister's Questions

Humza Yousaf under pressure on puberty blockers for children

Doctors, not politicians, must decide if children are prescribed puberty blockers, First Minister Humza Yousaf has said.

Last week NHS England said clinicians should stop the routine prescribing of puberty-suppressing drugs to minors with gender dysphoria.

The move came as part of a wide-ranging review of children's gender identity services and NHS England said there is "not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness" of the drugs.

At First Minister's Questions, Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher asked Yousaf if his government will "engage with NHS Scotland on ending" the practice here.

Yousaf said NHS England's decision was being "closely considered by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde" as a provider of young people's gender services at the specialist Sandyford clinic.

He said: "Any decision on how such healthcare is delivered in Scotland will rightly be made by health boards, but most importantly the clinicians involved".

In an interim policy position last year, it was recommended that puberty blockers should only be accessed via a research programme.

Yousaf said his government and NHS Scotland are observers to that study and are considering further engagement.

Calling for Yousaf to publish all evidence the government has that puberty blockers are safe for children, Gallacher said: "The truth of the matter is, we don't know whether puberty blockers have long-term life-changing consequences on young people who take them."

Yousaf said it is "sensible" that the matter is for clinical experts and not "politicians demanding what clinical treatment should be".

He said: "I think it's right that we trust our clinicians and their expert decision-making."

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Read the most recent article written by Kirsteen Paterson - Puberty blockers: The medical controversy Scotland's experts don't want to talk about.

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