Don’t hold the NHS hostage to human rights.

The HSJ is reporting that a transexual man who became a woman 10 years ago has had her appeal case denied against her PCT who refused to pay for breast enlargement surgery on the NHS, after hormonal treatment failed.

There are various conditions which cause sexual ambiguity, and the psychological pain and identity confusion experienced by people who are ‘intersex’ must be acute. Witness the case of Caster Semenya, the African runner. However there is another cohort of people who physically have all the characteristics of one gender yet want to be the other. The reasons will be diverse and should not be dismissed out of hand, but should the solution really be tax-payer funded? Where do we draw the line between want and need? What are the the limits of NHS therapy? As the judge in this case said “there was no duty in either public law or discrimination law to classify all treatment and procedures sought by transsexuals as high priority or core procedures”. That actually goes for all of us, not just transexuals.

The plea that the refusal violated her human rights and amounted to sex discrimination was rightly dismissed. The NHS has been held hostage to human rights – it’s time we set it free by defining the boundaries of treatment more clearly.

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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