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Intersex children are being failed by a leading kids hospital, shocking new investigation claims

Mayer Nissim October 13, 2017
GOSH tribute at London 2012

GOSH tribute at London 2012 (MORRY GASH/AFP/GettyImages)

Intersex children are being failed in their treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), a new report has claimed.

According to the investigation by Dr Faye Kirkland for the BBC, in some cases there was a lack of proper discussion in advance of irreversible surgery being carried out.

There was also insufficient lack of face-to-face psychological care given to intersex children.

Additionally, information is not given to parents in a writing, so they can go home and properly absorb it prior to surgery, suggesting a lack of fully informed consent.

Intersex children are being failed in their treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital - report claims
Baby

Furthermore, not all cases involving intersex children, also known as disorders of sexual development (DSD), were discussed at GOSH’s multidisciplinary team meetings

An NHS England spokesperson said: “Disorders of sexual development (DSD) are rare and complex, but it is right that children and their families should be appropriately involved in decisions about their care.”

The trust said that a specialist psychologist would start at thee hospital “in the coming weeks”.

It did not comment on the other matters raised by Dr Kirkland’s investigation.

A Great Ormond Street Hospital spokesperson told PinkNews: “The allegations levelled at Great Ormond Street Hospital by the BBC have not been substantiated to us. Moreover, their story focuses around a case study that is 28 years old and the treatment he received is not consistent with today’s practice.

“We do not do gender reassignment surgery at GOSH and the CQC is not investigating us as a result of these allegations.”

They added: “The story refers to an area of medicine that is complex and constantly evolving, and many of the most complex cases of DSD or intersex are referred to GOSH.

“We take very seriously any allegations that we are failing in our duty of care to our patients. All procedures carried out at GOSH are within NHS England commissioned services and adhere to relevant guidelines on surgical procedures.”

Surgery on intersex children has long been a controversial area of medicine.

In May, a report from Amnesty found that intersex children in Germany and Denmark are subject to invasive, non-emergency, irreversible surgery to fit gender stereotypes.

“These interventions may violate human rights, including the rights of the child, the right to physical and bodily integrity and the right to the highest attainable standard of health,” the report stated.

Earlier this year, a report from the Human Rights Watch and interACT found that doctors in the US continue to perform unnecessary surgery on intersex children.

The report described the results of the surgeries as “often catastrophic”, and says the benefits are “largely unproven” and it is “rarely urgent” for the health of the child.

“The devastation caused by medically unnecessary surgery on intersex infants is both physical and psychological,” said Kimberly Zieselman, an intersex woman and executive director of interACT.

“Despite decades of patient advocates putting the medical community on notice about the harm from these procedures, many doctors continue to present these surgeries to parents as good options.”

Malta and Portugal have both announced bans on such surgeries on children.

The issue was raised by the Council of Europe in a report in 2015, and the Council today passed a groundbreaking resolution on the matter.

The resolution called for “medically unnecessary, sex-normalising surgery” on intersex babies to be banned.

It also called for the banning on other non-surgical treatment being conducted on intersex children and young people without their informed consent.

More: BBC, Disorders of sexual development, Dr Faye Kirkland, DSD, GOSH, great ormond street hospital, intersex

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