WHILE visiting Holyrood last week to witness the ill-conceived bourach of legislation that is the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform Bill, I got an important alert about an equally important issue.

Prior to the formal opening of the debate on the bill, Jenny Minto , the current public health minister, was skilfully interrogated by Conservative MSP Meghan Gallacher, who once again challenged the SNP government to embrace fully the 32 recommendations of the Cass report into gender-based care that has resulted in the suspension of puberty-blocker use in NHS England and a “pause” in new prescriptions at the Sandyford clinic in Glasgow.

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This long-awaited report has resulted in a general sigh of relief from the majority of mental health professionals, paediatricians and most importantly the discerning public at large. I heard the minister once again prevaricate on the SNP government’s response to the report using the all-too-familiar language, calculated I think to imply that it is only self-appointed gender experts and SNP/Green allies who really care deeply about the rights and the wellbeing of children and that those who call for “great caution” are either right-wing fundamentalists on naive, uniformed, simple folk who lack education and enlightenment on the progressive conceptualisation of human biology and gender, and who wish to deprive dysphoric adolescents and younger of the best evidenced and ethically sound care and human rights.

The worldwide exposition of the derisory standards of research, appalling record-keeping etc that prevailed at the self-appointed group known as WPATH and similar low standards on clinical practice at clinics have given the lie to any robust scientific validity claimed by the sex-reassignment industry.

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What about the many tragically and irreversibly injured innocent people now coming forward for detransitioning, devastated by what a small but currently disproportionately potent sect of the medical world persuaded them to do whilst in the midst of their emotional suffering? Are they naive and uninformed?

I do not know of any experienced and respected paediatricians and endocrinologists who do not have grave reservations about the psychological and metabolic consequences of both puberty blockade and disfiguring and stigmatising surgery. Are they all naive fundamentalists? What about the many distraught parents and families who harbour deep unexpressed reservations on the proposals made to them to relieve their child’s suffering despite evidence and testimony to the contrary?

The departing first minister and his public health minister are both quoted almost verbatim in proclaiming that it is not their place to dictate to clinicians to prescribe or not to prescribe. This abdication of responsibility for stewardship of the health of the nation is profoundly worrying. The state has a fundamental duty I believe to advocate for their citizens when they are faced with the excesses and derelictions of all professions and guilds. The pages of history are spattered with instances where extremist elements and/or entrenched orthodoxy within the medical world have resulted in great suffering and death. Doctors do not always know best, and that is a truism whose evidence base has expanded greatly in recent years. Who will stand up for our children during the pandemic of emotional distress in general and gender dysphoria in particular? Who is going to demand answers as to why this happening at all? Who is going to promote the real and highly effective alternatives to drugs and surgery?

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We urgently need new “guardians of the realm” with sufficient life experience, education and gumption to deconstruct the profit-based narratives of Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Tech and Big Medicine whose vested interests have increasingly undermined the health and wellbeing of our nation. Whatever happens at Holyrood in the coming days, any SNP government arrangement that emerges must cease now any further culture wars and put intense focus on the NHS, education , poverty and yes ... independence, for which they were given a largely ignored mandate.

In the meantime “the people” could begin to stand up and be counted about these matters. It is their collective conscience that will deliver the best solution to all our problems not the erstwhile electoral aristocracy.

Dr Andrew Docherty