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Welcome to BBC London News with me, Alex Bushill.
BBC London has learnt that young people experiencing gender identity
issues are waiting up to two years to be seen at London's only
A leading expert has likened that wait to psychological torture.
Ben Hunte has been to meet one young person on the list.
I developed an eating disorder caused by my gender dysphoria.
I've struggled with depression and self-harm and being suicidal.
Alex is one of thousands of teenagers in the UK who would
He's asked the NHS for help and has been made to wait more than a year.
I felt like I was having to put my whole life on hold to wait
for this thing I needed, with no idea of the time
because it was so unclear how long it would be and how long
It was something that affected the whole family.
We were really very frightened and alone,
Nobody seemed to be able to advise us.
Everyone was saying they didn't know anything about gender issues
and it was the Tavistock who would advise on that,
but we couldn't see the Tavistock for months and months.
Alex is waiting to be seen at the Tavistock, the UK's only
clinic for under 18s who have difficulties with
They offer everything from counselling to puberty
blockers, medication which prevents the body's natural development.
And the demand has never been higher.
BBC London has learned that between 2016 and 2017,
there were just over 2,000 referrals to the clinic.
Looking back to the previous year, there were just
That equates to a 104% increase - a doubling in the numbers.
This demand is leading to long waiting times,
which some experts say is damaging to health.
For them, the wait is hugely distressing.
Every day is an agony, as they see themselves being more
and more developing into a physical body that is quite foreign to them.
Although the Tavistock Centre acknowledges it can do more
to reduce waiting times, the team says some of the treatments
are life-changing and can lead to infertility,
We offer young people the opportunity over time to be
thinking about their options and thinking about what's right
for them, both in the present and in the long-term.
And gender identities may carry on or they may change over time,
and I think it's about not racing forward too quickly,
Critics of gender therapy treatment say that more research should be
done into the effects of the medication on the body, especially
We are treating them as if they are adults and they
You know, nobody, as an adult, identifies in the same
We have to give children a chance to grow up before making such life
The Tavistock Centre is now recruiting more staff
to deal with the overwhelming demand.
Even so, for young people like Alex, the wait continues.
We should be worried about young people having
to wait for this therapy, because trans teenagers have such
a high rate of suicide and mental health problems.
We're risking their lives when we make them wait for treatment.
No-one knows why the demand for gender therapy has
But experts say, despite the wait, any young people who need help
Voters go to the polls tomorrow in elections
for the County Councils outside London.
The Conservatives are dominant in these four home counties,
Surrey, Essex, Herts, Bucks, with 186 councillors compared
to 36 Lib Dems, 25 Labour, 13 Ukip and 22 others.
A universal challenge for all our councils is how
to afford social care with an ageing population.
You may remember the headlines when Surrey County Council wanted
to increase council tax by 15% to pay for social care,
We visited a care home there to find out more.
It is not your average care home scene, here at
Priory Court near Epsom they have their very own pub room.
Residents here, and thousands more across the home counties,
know they're at the centre of a row over how their care
Some other homes charge ?2,000 per week and councils don't
have enough money to meet the growing number of those who
Surrey says it has to find an extra ?16 million
I think there is this eternal worry as to where is the
I think families get worried as well.
We asked politicians from Surrey County Council to tell
residents what their parties would do to solve what's
I believe it's time the Government looked at putting on a special tax
or insurance policy for the elderly, so that over the years we have
sufficient funds to pay for your care when you get elderly.
The Government recently announced an extra ?1 billion
The Lib Dems call for ?2 billion to tackle the crisis.
It's a lovely thing that we can live longer,
The Council should be addressing the Government,
we need a nationally funded, integrated system that provides
for adult social care and the NHS services to work together.
We will probably have to look at more taxes or some
other way of funding, maybe when we come out the EU,
some of the money which we are not going to be sending over
to Brussels, for the big buildings maybe some of it,
and I think we should be using some of it, to put more into the NHS
We spoke to the four main parties on Surrey County Council
here at Priory Court this morning, but Labour and the Green party
are also represented on the authority with one seat each.
We're going to ask them how they would tackle the crisis
We would look to do as other counties have done, whether it's
Berkshire or Dorset, Oxfordshire, streamline the local
authority which would make one-off savings and ongoing savings,
which could be used to fund adult social care.
The real challenge is, in terms of local councils,
we need to prioritise care, prioritise the future,
prioritise the most vulnerable people in the UK before
Back at Priory Court, what do the residents think?
Have you heard anything today from any of the politicians that
have given you any hope they have the answers?
They're all coming up with the same thing,
Something has got to be done, exactly what, I don't know.
A sentiment voters going to the polls tomorrow
Imagine being serenaded by one of the biggest
Well last night, that's exactly what happened
She thought she'd never be able to go to one of Ed Sheeran's
concerts because she lives with a painful,
So instead the superstar arranged a special one-to-one
performance for her, as Katharine Carpenter can tell us.
She's got the signed guitar and an Ed Sheeran doll,
like lots of ten-year-olds, Melody Driscoll has a bit
What's more, his music seems to ease her suffering.
It's amazing to see someone that goes through so much pain,
and she can't walk and she can't talk, and she's basically
not got much of a life, to then have Ed enter it and he's
given her a whole new meaning of life.
He keeps fighting, he keeps her happy.
Through the power of social media, Ed Sheeran heard about this and last
November turned up unannounced at her hospital bedside.
It led to this, a one-to-one gig at the O2 last night.
Melody can't go to a public concert because of the risk of infection,
but the star made sure she didn't miss out.
He did the staging, the lighting, the big screens behind her.
He made sure to her it felt like a proper concept.
She got treated like she was the star, rather than him.
When they met backstage, Ed said it wouldn't be the last time.
Until then, Melody will have to make do with his regular video messages.
Hi, Melody, I hear you've got a big operation this weekend,
but I'm just ringing you say be brave.
Surely enough to make any super fan very happy indeed.
Just time to wish you goodnight and hand you over to
Sadly, not much sunshine over the next few days. One of our weather
watchers managed to catch a glimpse this evening. The cloudy conditions
continuing to tonight. Like we have seen through today, occasional spots
of light rain and drizzle coming through in the north-easterly
breeze. Having that cloud around, temperatures don't drop much at
night. Six or seven Celsius at the lowest by the time we get to
tomorrow morning. Again, expect a great start. Some patchy, light rain
or drizzle, what we do say will mainly just whack the ground, some
places staying dry. Some subtle hints of brightness here and there,
but with the north-easterly breeze it will still feel fairly chilly.
Spot the difference as we go into Friday, we do it all again with lots
of cloud around. With the outlook, it remains a little bit brighter as
we go into Saturday, maybe rain later.
The weather was one extreme or the other across the UK, warm and sunny,
cold and grey. You can see which category Lowestoft was in, a lot of
power across south-east India and South East England. -- a lot of
cloud across South East Anglia and south-east England. That breeze is
very important when it comes to the temperature, along the coastline in
the past 24 hours.