Hannah Barnes is Investigations Producer at the BBC’s flagship television news and current affairs program, Newsnight. She has spent the last 15 years at the BBC, specializing in investigative and analytical journalism for both television and radio. Hannah led Newsnight’s coverage of the care available to young people experiencing gender-related distress at the UK’s National Health Service’s (NHS) only youth gender clinic in England and Wales, the Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) at the Tavistock in London.
In this episode, Sasha and Stella speak with Hannah about how, although she continued to report and expose questions, nothing changed and she eventually felt compelled to write a book; as she says herself “I knew too much.” In this probing discussion, issues such as puberty blockers, overwhelming caseloads, and the impact of lobby groups, such as Mermaids, are highlighted and explored.
Hannah’s work at Newsnight ultimately helped precipitate an extensive review by the NHS and unearthed evidence that was later used in several sets of legal proceedings. Newsnight’s reporting also led directly to an inspection by England’s healthcare regulator, the Care Quality Commission, which branded the services provided by the GIDS clinic “Inadequate.” The service is scheduled to close in spring 2023 following a series of critical reports.
Hannah’s new book, Time To Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children, is a meticulously researched account of what went wrong at the Tavistock Clinic, which made headlines around the world on publication. In writing the book, Hannah studied thousands of pages of documents, including internal emails and unpublished reports, and well over a hundred hours of personal testimony from GIDS clinicians, former service users, and senior Tavistock figures, to write a disturbing and gripping parable of our times.
Swift Press: https://swiftpress.com/book/time-to-think/
Newsnight coverage of GIDS at the Tavistock: https://www.bayswatersupport.org.uk/bbc-newsnight-coverage
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“What are the odds of every single young person thinking exactly the same way? Adolescents don’t, generally.” — Hannah Barnes [26:29]
“I do find the seeming reluctance at GIDS to admit that anything has gone wrong ... quite odd.” — Hannah Barnes [48:41]
“To hold the line that everybody got the best care that they could have, I don’t think it stands up to scrutiny.” — Hannah Barnes [49:50]
“This isn’t a story about people's right to transition, it's about whether it’s safe.” — Hannah Barnes [1:16:36]