Staff did not always feel able to raise concerns

James Kirkup on the Care Quality Commission’s reports on the gender identity services offered by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust:

The CQC describes an NHS facility that — until last month — put vulnerable children on a pathway to the use of untested medicines and life-changing interventions, sometimes without keeping proper records proving consent for treatment or demonstrating the reasons for that treatment. An NHS service where staff were afraid to raise concerns about procedure and practice for fear of ‘retribution’ from their employers. An NHS service that failed to ask fundamental questions about the growing number of vulnerable children being presented for treatment.

It all sounds so old-fashioned, in the most literal sense, doesn’t it? Like the fashion for lobotomies, or bleeding.

These CQC conclusions are a significant vindication of a small but important group of people who have been raising concerns and questions about the Tavistock and its Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) for several years…

The accounts of these whistleblowers have not been welcomed by people who should have listened. In some cases, the Trust appears to have sought to penalise them…

For reference, this is what the CQC concluded about the Trust and GIDS’s approach to staff members raising concerns about its services:

Staff did not always feel able to raise concerns without fear of retribution. Some staff, particularly those in non-clinical roles, said there was a fear of blame within the service. This meant they were reluctant to raise concerns.

Oddly enough.

The CQC report resoundingly vindicates the journalism of good reporters such as Hannah Barnes and Deborah Cohen at BBC Newsnight, who have investigated the GIDS in the face of resistance. It also shows that a ‘shoot the messenger’ culture around trans issues can do real harm. For several years, anyone raising doubts about the GIDS ran the risk of being accused of transphobic bigotry, something that undoubtedly meant it has taken longer than it should have done for the failings of the clinic to be brought to light and (hopefully) addressed.

Hopefully indeed.

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