The New South Wales health minister has said he will seek advice on processes at a gender clinic in Newcastle after a budget hearing was told he could put children on blocker treatment puberty too quickly.
- Brad Hazzard says he will seek advice on treatments at gender clinic
- Hunter New England Health says all children are carefully assessed
- Service says stage one puberty-blocking treatments are reversible
Maple Leaf House is a state-run clinic for transgender and gender-diverse children.
At the health budget hearing, Labor’s Greg Donnelly said he had serious concerns about his processes after speaking to families and clinicians associated with the clinic.
The chairman of the committee, which has opposed same-sex marriage, abortion, allowing same-sex couples to adopt children and called for religious exemptions to assisted dying laws, said he fears young people are treated with puberty-blocking drugs after “just two or three medical appointments”.
Mr Donnelly told the hearing that the ‘fast move’ was ‘completely against the grain’ of what was happening abroad and said a ‘cautious approach’ was part of the official guidelines in Sweden, in France, Finland and the United Kingdom.
“The situation is that there is a rapid progression of young people through at least the first two stages of puberty blockage and cross-sex hormones,” Mr Donnelly said.
“NSW Health at John Hunter Hospital has a children’s part of the hospital associated with Maple Leaf House.
“It presents itself as an affirmation center with affirmation clinicians.
“I have been informed that after only two or three medical appointments, they are transferred to the start of puberty blocking drugs.”
Mr Donnelly said he was concerned institutions were focusing too much on an affirmative rather than cautious approach.
Minister will seek answers
The Maple Leaf House was opened by Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who said in the budget forecast that he would seek advice from health officials about the situation.
“I am happy to take a close look at the issues you have raised and take advice,” Mr. Hazzard said.
“I think it’s appropriate from what you’ve said, but I’ve actually visited a number of these services and I think it’s, as you rightly said at the start, a very complex issue – very complex all over the world.
“I will raise the issues with health professionals and try to gain insight and better understand the issues from a global perspective.
“I have to be very candid that this is such a complex issue – I’m not sure it’s an appropriate issue for me as health minister to determine.
“It’s more the clinicians.
“I’m definitely not going to insert myself into what is the most complex of complex issues for young people who might be suffering from gender dysphoria.”
Well rated children
The ABC asked Hunter New England Health about the centre’s approach to children with gender dysphoria, their age and whether the processes had been rushed.
The health district did not respond to questions, but issued a statement.
“Transgender and gender-diverse children and adolescents are a highly vulnerable population with high rates of depression, self-harm, suicide attempts and actual suicide, and need access to expert care and treatment. and appropriate,” the statement said.
“All patients referred to Maple Leaf House undergo a specialized and comprehensive evaluation involving consultation with specialists in psychological medicine, adolescent medicine and endocrinology.
“Young people are only ever considered for first stage treatment (puberty blockers) after this assessment and in close consultation with the patient, parents and treating medical teams.”
The health department also stressed that stage one treatment was reversible.
A clinic in Britain has also been criticized for allegedly rushed treatments.
The controversial Tavistock clinic recently closed after families claimed their children had been rushed into treatment and given puberty-blocking drugs which they regretted.