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A whistleblower who raised concerns about children’s safety at an NHS gender clinic has been awarded £20,000 in an employment tribunal.
Sonia Appleby is child safeguarding lead at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids). The clinic advises young people struggling with their gender identity, and is the only NHS-run clinic of its kind in England.
Her role requires her to protect children from mistreatment and to ensure children’s health and development is not impaired.
She told the tribunal that a number of staff had brought concerns to her about high numbers of children being enrolled at Gids, and they were worried that “some young children are being actively encouraged to be transgender without effective scrutiny of their circumstances”.
She made six protected disclosures between 2017 and 2019.
These included concerns about a private GP, Dr Helen Webberley who staff alleged had been issuing puberty blockers to children being assessed by Gids or who were on its waiting list.
Another disclosure focused on how the increased workload meant staff were too overworked to consider safeguarding issues in individual cases, with a recommendation that better record-keeping provisions were put in place to assist “clear thinking”.
Appleby reported these concerns to her manager, but the tribunal heard that bosses responded by trying to prevent her from carrying out her safeguarding role.
She said that Tavistock and Portman trust m