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 Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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