Safeguarding Concerns at GIDS

by Sonia Appleby

Safeguarding Concerns at GIDS

by Sonia Appleby
Sonia Appleby
Case Owner
I have 39 years' post-qualification experience as a social worker specializing in safeguarding and child protection within social care, court proceedings (children's guardian) and health settings.
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Sonia Appleby
Case Owner
I have 39 years' post-qualification experience as a social worker specializing in safeguarding and child protection within social care, court proceedings (children's guardian) and health settings.
Pledge now

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Latest: Sept. 6, 2021

Many thanks to you all

Dear All Donors


I trust you are well.


The ET ruled in my favour.  The Judgment will be uploaded on this link in the next day or so.


As you all can appreciate, making a decision to instigate proceed…

Read more

Safeguarding Scrutiny and the National Gender Identity Development Service

My Details

My name is Sonia Appleby.  I am a qualified social worker (1981); adult psychoanalytic psychotherapist (I992); MSc. in health psychology, (research) and MBA.  I have a long career safeguarding and protecting children in social care, health and as a children’s guardian in public and private proceedings. 

I  am currently  the Named Professional for Safeguarding Children and the Safeguarding Children Lead at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. I am therefore still employed by the Trust against which I am bringing my claim.

What is Safeguarding?

In all NHS trusts and organisations there are professionals such as myself, who work with other internal departments and external agencies to ensure there are 'root and branch' systems to keep patients and service users safe. This means responding to patient/service users' personal experiences, also including their environmental, familial, community/peer circumstances and sometimes any of the aforementioned domains could require the intervention of other professionals in different agencies.  Safeguarding children and young people also concerns ensuring there is a sufficiently, healthy culture that does not unwittingly contribute to potential harm regarding the people who use and deliver NHS services.

Safeguarding within the Trust

My primary task is to ensure that clinicians protect their patients/service users from avoidable harm and are also able to recognize and appropriately respond to situations where under 18s are in need of safeguarding.  My secondary task is challenge practices which are either harmful or could lead to harm. The Trust is commissioned by NHS England to deliver a National Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), which provides services for children and adolescents diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The treatments available also include "puberty blockers". 

I have sought to ensure the principle of ''safeguarding children and young people'' is upheld whilst service users are being assessed and treated within the GIDS service. 

My Claim

I lodged a whistle-blowing claim in November  2019 at the Central London Employment Tribunal. Since then I have made 2 applications to amend my claim as new information came to light. 

In my claim, I allege that because I made "protected disclosures" to my line manager regarding concerns raised by  GIDS staff ( that the health or safety of patients was being, had been or was likely to be endangered), I was subjected to detriments. 

I allege these detriments are:

i)  the Tavistock misused it's own procedures to besmirch me and therefore jeopardize the role of safeguarding within the Trust;

ii) there was an unwritten but mandated directive from the Tavistock management that safeguarding concerns should not be brought to my attention despite being the Trust Safeguarding Children Lead;

iii) and, clinicians were discouraged from reporting safeguarding concerns to me.

I also allege various other detriments. 

Further to disclosures made to Newsnight by former staff, BBC Newsnight produced a programme focusing on the allegation that the Trust did not want to report any concerns to me.  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51806962  

and you can watch it here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTRnrp9pXHY 

Can you Help?

Your support will assist in the payment for expert lawyers to prove that I was subjected to various detriments because of my protected disclosures before the impartial employment tribunal. I maintain that there needs to be proper and effective safeguarding scrutiny of GIDS especially given the nature of its work, and to prove that some clinicians have been told by the GIDS Director not to seek safeguarding input from the Trust's Safeguarding Children Lead, which is dangerous, in terms of patient/service user safety and contributes to a detrimental, organisational culture to keep safeguarding concerns hidden from scrutiny. 

I want it known that I have always supported the availability of a gender identity service for children, adolescents, adults and their families, and staff who deliver these services, but like other NHS services, the National Gender Identity Service,  in doing its work, needs to be transparent and open to safeguarding commentary regarding the delivery of its services.  

This is not an "anti-trans" case. I am supportive of the transgender community and their right to seek services that are both supportive and safe.


Thank you for your support. 

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Update 7

Sonia Appleby

Sept. 6, 2021

Many thanks to you all

Dear All Donors


I trust you are well.


The ET ruled in my favour.  The Judgment will be uploaded on this link in the next day or so.


As you all can appreciate, making a decision to instigate proceedings against my employer was a significant and nearly overwhelming experience.


I am, naturally, very pleased with the outcome. 


I want to thank you, my witnesses, my legal team and all of the very many people who have supported me during the tribunal process.


The last two years, as a claimant and employee, have been increasingly brutal. 


However, I want to focus on you and to express my sincere thanks for your humanity and your financial support,  without which I would never have been able to bring my case.


Standing by me as you all did, supported the primacy of childhood, keeping our children safe, and hopefully sending a message that those who strive to do their jobs are not miscreants.


I am and will remain indebted to you all.


Sonia

Update 6

Sonia Appleby

July 2, 2021

Update 5 - My heartfelt thanks to you all

Hello Donors

The Employment Tribunal Hearing occurred between 14 and 24 June.  The Judgment is pending.

I want to express my profound thanks to you all for your generosity in helping me to bring my case to the Employment Tribunal.

In addition, my thanks to Drs Bristow; Churcher Clarke; Entwistle; Hutchinson and Spiliadis for their courage in “speaking up” about their clinical experiences and concerns about children and young people in the GIDS and for providing illuminating Witness Statements.

I want to thank Ms Anya Palmer, Counsel (Old Square), for her expert skills before and during the hearing.  I also want to thank Mr Jeremy Lewis, Counsel (Littleton), for his incisive help in the early part of the case.

Ms Hannah Barnes, BBC, senior journalist, deserves a round of applause for her diligence in live tweeting the hearing. Thank you!

Ms Keira Bell; Ms Allison Bailey; Dr David Bell; Mr and Mrs Sue Evans; Ms Maya Forstater; the Evidence Based Social Work Alliance; Ms Michelle Janas and Ms Susie Hawes all of whom have held in mind my circumstances and advocated support.

Elliot Hammer, my solicitor, for listening and being resolutely committed to the prosecution of my case since July 2019 and helping me manage the whole process of being a Claimant, which was daunting.

Finally, I will in due course provide a concluding update when the Judgment is published.

With my best wishes


Sonia

Update 5

Sonia Appleby

June 11, 2021

Amendment to update 4

Dear Donors

Amendment to Update 4.

My target has been increased by £20k to cover additional legal costs. 

Please accept my sincere apologies

Sonia

Update 4

Sonia Appleby

June 11, 2021

Message to my generous donors

Dear Donors


I am writing much sooner than I expected to advise, your donations have helped to achieve my crowdfunding target. What an achievement: only possible through your endeavours. 

My thanks to you once again.

I write further to advise that I do not seek any more donations from those who have already been extremely generous. I will be increasing my target by £120,000 to cover additional legal costs. 

Best wishes


Sonia

Update 3

Sonia Appleby

June 7, 2021

Pre-trial Message to my Crowd Justice Supporters

Dear Donors,

My Crowd Justice Fund has reached just over 90k, which is beyond spectacular.   

I owe you all a debt of gratitude for your kindness, generosity and support.  

My claim is organised around the basic tenets of NHS safety being upheld in any service, and those who raise concerns about risks and safeguarding should not be vilified.  

It has been correctly reported the trial starts on 14 June 2021.  My legal team comprises of Mr Elliot Hammer, Branch Austin LLP and Ms Anya Palmer, Old Square Chambers.

Thank you all 

Update 2

Sonia Appleby

March 19, 2021

Message to my Crowd Justice supporters

Account: Sonia Appleby

Case:  NHS Whistle-blowing

To:  All account donations


Hello Donor Contributors

It is now approaching 6 months since my last update and some 9 months since the instigation of my Crowd Justice webpage.   In the interim, there have been some very pertinent developments regarding GIDS, which are easily accessed via the internet and social media.

Notwithstanding the above developments, I would like to thank you all not only for your generous donations but also your well-observed commentaries and fortifying support. It has really helped me through this litigation process. 

My case rests on being vilified for raising safeguarding concerns with my line managers about the safety of children and young people receiving GID services. 

I have moved my representation from Sternberg Reed solicitors to Branch Austin LLP, although my legal team remains headed up by my solicitor, Elliot Hammer. 

We are now mid-way through exchanging the evidentiary documents and agreeing the trial bundle with the solicitors for the Trust. We are also now taking the initial steps to take proofs of evidence from my witnesses.  Many potential witnesses are scared of being scapegoated by their current and future employers, which I know many of you understand all too well from your direct experiences and/or from your empathetic responses.  

If you have already supported me, I would be most grateful if you could circulate the link to my Crowd Justice webpage as widely as possible. 

Thank you and best wishes

Sonia


Update 1

Sonia Appleby

Oct. 20, 2020

3 month anniversary message to all contributors

Message to CrowdJustice

Account: Sonia Appleby

Case:  NHS Whistle-blowing

To:  All account donations


Hello Donor Contributors


The 7th October marked three months’ since the instigation of my CrowdJustice webpage.  I would like to thank you all not only for your generous donations but also your well-observed commentaries and fortifying support.

There have been predictable delays regarding the legal process related to COVID and, as a consequence, the stretched resources of the Employment Tribunal during what has been a challenging time for all.

I am pleased to report the case is now re-listed for summer 2021.  I cannot give specific information about matters to date but I can attest to the lived experience of being a whistle-blower. 

NHS employees, who alert organisations regarding patient care concerns and risks, should not be vilified.   The elimination of systemic, poor practice should and must be the primary focus.

Finally, if you can, please share the CrowdJustice link as widely as possible.  I appreciate, in doing so, some donors have commented on the need to ‘hold their noses’ given the challenges in recent months related to CrowdJustice.

Best Wishes

Sonia

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