The Tavistock scandal shows the dangers of civil service groupthink

Jul 31, 2022 by

by Kemi Badenoch, The Times:

I was advised not to listen to Keira’s harrowing story but I overruled that: ministers must overcome obstacles to find the truth.

Government ministers have difficult decisions to make, often between options where the best course of action is unclear. Some decisions, however, are simple. They are about right and wrong. Last week’s decision to shut the Tavistock clinic is one such example.
When I became equalities minister in early 2020, the NHS gender identity service (GIDS) for young people was presented to me by government officials as a positive medical provision to support children. I was assured that was there “nothing to see here”, if anything, the Tavistock was getting unfair press. This was despite whistleblowers like Dr David Bell already raising concerns about practices at the clinic.
Children and their welfare should be a priority of any government. After receiving correspondence on the matter I decided to listen to every perspective on the issue of those experiencing gender distress to prepare future policy. I noticed officials seemed to be consulting the same people and previous ministers had created an LGBT advisory panel that was clearly suffering from groupthink…
…I insisted on meeting campaigners on both sides of the debate: not just Stonewall but, to the horror of some officials, the LGB Alliance. I met clinicians and, most importantly, I asked to meet young people who had used the Tavistock’s services.

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