Good Law Project’s legal challenge to long-standing trans healthcare delays given permission to proceed to court hearing

Graham Robson May 11, 2022

Good Law Project, a “not-for-profit that uses the law for a better world”, has been given permission to bring their legal challenge against trans healthcare failures to the High Court.

Alongside trans-led organisation Gendered Intelligence and four people who have suffered life-altering and, Good Law Project argues, unlawful waits for treatment, Good Law Project applied last December for permission to bring a judicial review against NHS England on six grounds.

This month, Mr Justice Choudhury agreed that all six of these grounds are arguable. So, the case will now proceed to a full hearing in the High Court. A court date has not yet been set, but it is likely to take place this autumn. The six grounds of claim are:

  • NHS England has failed, under regulation 45(3) of the 2012 Regulations, to ensure that 92% of trans patients who are referred for medical treatment begin that treatment within 18 weeks of referral.
  • NHS England has failed, under section 3B of the National Health Service Act 2006, to provide services for children needing puberty blockers that they can access before starting puberty.
  • NHS England has failed, under the NHS Constitution, to uphold the rights of adult patients with gender dysphoria to begin treatment within 18 weeks of referral.
  • NHS England has unlawfully discriminated against trans people because waiting times for gender identity services are longer than for the vast majority of other healthcare services.
  • NHS England’s decision to introduce and maintain a Multi-Professional Review Group as part of puberty-delaying treatment for trans children is unlawfully directly or indirectly discriminatory. Good Law Project also thinks the Service Specification unlawfully requires both the child and their parents to consent to treatment, contrary to the principles established in Gillick and AB v CD.
  • NHS England has failed to comply with its public sector equality duty to ensure trans people can access acute services by setting up the Multi-Professional Review Group for trans children and in the arrangements it makes with providers.

Cara English, Head of Public Engagement at Gendered Intelligence, said: “We know from first-hand experience⁠ – and from working closely with and for the trans community⁠ – that the waiting lists for gender healthcare services are proving disastrous to people’s health and wellbeing.

“These illegal waits long predate the pandemic, and are only getting worse as time goes on. We need action, not words. We hope that, through this judicial review, we can help kickstart the proper, timely healthcare for trans and non-binary people that’s needed.”

Jo Maugham, director of Good Law Project, added: “For too long, trans people have faced life-altering – and sometimes life-threatening – waits for specialist NHS healthcare. We believe that these waiting times, and other failures in trans healthcare services, are discriminatory and unlawful. This court case will be a vital moment in the fight for healthcare justice for trans and non-binary people. Healthcare should be for everyone.”

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