Gillick competence, puberty blockers and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has refused an application for permission to appeal in the matter of Bell v Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. The decision reaffirms the principle of Gillick competence that “it was for doctors and not judges to decide on the capacity of a person under 16 to consent to medical treatment”.

This high-profile case concerned a challenge to Tavistock and Portman’s Gender Identity Development Service or GIDS as it is more commonly known – and its practice of referring patients under the age of 18 for prescription of puberty-blocking treatment. You can read our earlier blog on the Court of Appeal’s decision here.

The application for permission to appeal was put forward on the grounds that the Court of Appeal had misinterpreted and/or misapplied the House of Lords’ decision in Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority. However on 5 May 2022 the Supreme Court refused the application on the basis that it raised no arguable point of law.

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