03/05/2017 London News


03/05/2017

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Welcome to BBC London News with me, Alex Bushill.

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BBC London has learnt that young people experiencing gender identity

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issues are waiting up to two years to be seen at London's only

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A leading expert has likened that wait to psychological torture.

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Ben Hunte has been to meet one young person on the list.

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I developed an eating disorder caused by my gender dysphoria.

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I've struggled with depression and self-harm and being suicidal.

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Alex is one of thousands of teenagers in the UK who would

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He's asked the NHS for help and has been made to wait more than a year.

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I felt like I was having to put my whole life on hold to wait

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for this thing I needed, with no idea of the time

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because it was so unclear how long it would be and how long

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It was something that affected the whole family.

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We were really very frightened and alone,

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Nobody seemed to be able to advise us.

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Everyone was saying they didn't know anything about gender issues

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and it was the Tavistock who would advise on that,

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but we couldn't see the Tavistock for months and months.

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Alex is waiting to be seen at the Tavistock, the UK's only

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clinic for under 18s who have difficulties with

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They offer everything from counselling to puberty

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blockers, medication which prevents the body's natural development.

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And the demand has never been higher.

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BBC London has learned that between 2016 and 2017,

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there were just over 2,000 referrals to the clinic.

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Looking back to the previous year, there were just

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That equates to a 104% increase - a doubling in the numbers.

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This demand is leading to long waiting times,

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which some experts say is damaging to health.

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For them, the wait is hugely distressing.

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Every day is an agony, as they see themselves being more

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and more developing into a physical body that is quite foreign to them.

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Although the Tavistock Centre acknowledges it can do more

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to reduce waiting times, the team says some of the treatments

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are life-changing and can lead to infertility,

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We offer young people the opportunity over time to be

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thinking about their options and thinking about what's right

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for them, both in the present and in the long-term.

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And gender identities may carry on or they may change over time,

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and I think it's about not racing forward too quickly,

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Critics of gender therapy treatment say that more research should be

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done into the effects of the medication on the body, especially

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We are treating them as if they are adults and they

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You know, nobody, as an adult, identifies in the same

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We have to give children a chance to grow up before making such life

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The Tavistock Centre is now recruiting more staff

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to deal with the overwhelming demand.

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Even so, for young people like Alex, the wait continues.

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We should be worried about young people having

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to wait for this therapy, because trans teenagers have such

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a high rate of suicide and mental health problems.

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We're risking their lives when we make them wait for treatment.

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No-one knows why the demand for gender therapy has

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But experts say, despite the wait, any young people who need help

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Voters go to the polls tomorrow in elections

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for the County Councils outside London.

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The Conservatives are dominant in these four home counties,

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Surrey, Essex, Herts, Bucks, with 186 councillors compared

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to 36 Lib Dems, 25 Labour, 13 Ukip and 22 others.

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A universal challenge for all our councils is how

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to afford social care with an ageing population.

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You may remember the headlines when Surrey County Council wanted

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to increase council tax by 15% to pay for social care,

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We visited a care home there to find out more.

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It is not your average care home scene, here at

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Priory Court near Epsom they have their very own pub room.

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Residents here, and thousands more across the home counties,

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know they're at the centre of a row over how their care

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Some other homes charge ?2,000 per week and councils don't

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have enough money to meet the growing number of those who

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Surrey says it has to find an extra ?16 million

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I think there is this eternal worry as to where is the

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I think families get worried as well.

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We asked politicians from Surrey County Council to tell

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residents what their parties would do to solve what's

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I believe it's time the Government looked at putting on a special tax

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or insurance policy for the elderly, so that over the years we have

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sufficient funds to pay for your care when you get elderly.

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The Government recently announced an extra ?1 billion

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The Lib Dems call for ?2 billion to tackle the crisis.

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It's a lovely thing that we can live longer,

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The Council should be addressing the Government,

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we need a nationally funded, integrated system that provides

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for adult social care and the NHS services to work together.

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We will probably have to look at more taxes or some

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other way of funding, maybe when we come out the EU,

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some of the money which we are not going to be sending over

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to Brussels, for the big buildings maybe some of it,

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and I think we should be using some of it, to put more into the NHS

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We spoke to the four main parties on Surrey County Council

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here at Priory Court this morning, but Labour and the Green party

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are also represented on the authority with one seat each.

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We're going to ask them how they would tackle the crisis

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We would look to do as other counties have done, whether it's

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Berkshire or Dorset, Oxfordshire, streamline the local

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authority which would make one-off savings and ongoing savings,

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which could be used to fund adult social care.

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The real challenge is, in terms of local councils,

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we need to prioritise care, prioritise the future,

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prioritise the most vulnerable people in the UK before

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Back at Priory Court, what do the residents think?

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Have you heard anything today from any of the politicians that

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have given you any hope they have the answers?

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They're all coming up with the same thing,

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Something has got to be done, exactly what, I don't know.

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A sentiment voters going to the polls tomorrow

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Imagine being serenaded by one of the biggest

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Well last night, that's exactly what happened

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She thought she'd never be able to go to one of Ed Sheeran's

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concerts because she lives with a painful,

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So instead the superstar arranged a special one-to-one

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performance for her, as Katharine Carpenter can tell us.

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She's got the signed guitar and an Ed Sheeran doll,

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like lots of ten-year-olds, Melody Driscoll has a bit

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What's more, his music seems to ease her suffering.

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It's amazing to see someone that goes through so much pain,

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and she can't walk and she can't talk, and she's basically

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not got much of a life, to then have Ed enter it and he's

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given her a whole new meaning of life.

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He keeps fighting, he keeps her happy.

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Through the power of social media, Ed Sheeran heard about this and last

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November turned up unannounced at her hospital bedside.

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It led to this, a one-to-one gig at the O2 last night.

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Melody can't go to a public concert because of the risk of infection,

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but the star made sure she didn't miss out.

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He did the staging, the lighting, the big screens behind her.

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He made sure to her it felt like a proper concept.

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She got treated like she was the star, rather than him.

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When they met backstage, Ed said it wouldn't be the last time.

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Until then, Melody will have to make do with his regular video messages.

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Hi, Melody, I hear you've got a big operation this weekend,

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but I'm just ringing you say be brave.

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Surely enough to make any super fan very happy indeed.

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Just time to wish you goodnight and hand you over to

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Sadly, not much sunshine over the next few days. One of our weather

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watchers managed to catch a glimpse this evening. The cloudy conditions

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continuing to tonight. Like we have seen through today, occasional spots

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of light rain and drizzle coming through in the north-easterly

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breeze. Having that cloud around, temperatures don't drop much at

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night. Six or seven Celsius at the lowest by the time we get to

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tomorrow morning. Again, expect a great start. Some patchy, light rain

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or drizzle, what we do say will mainly just whack the ground, some

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places staying dry. Some subtle hints of brightness here and there,

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but with the north-easterly breeze it will still feel fairly chilly.

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Spot the difference as we go into Friday, we do it all again with lots

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of cloud around. With the outlook, it remains a little bit brighter as

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we go into Saturday, maybe rain later.

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The weather was one extreme or the other across the UK, warm and sunny,

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cold and grey. You can see which category Lowestoft was in, a lot of

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power across south-east India and South East England. -- a lot of

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cloud across South East Anglia and south-east England. That breeze is

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very important when it comes to the temperature, along the coastline in

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the past 24 hours.

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