The United Kingdom's National Health Service is considering a plan that would allow patients, including young children, to consult with a doctor about gender transition remotely via video conference services, according to the Daily Mail.
A clinic in the U.K. that evaluates patients for potential gender transition treatments has seen an increase in patient volume of more than 400 percent since 2013, resulting in a waiting list of about two years. More than 2,500 children were referred to the clinic just last year, including some 3- and 4-year olds.
In order to deal with the volume, the clinic is considering a plan for patients to be able to consult with a doctor using services such as Skype or Apple's Facetime function, allowing doctors to diagnose and prescribe gender transition issues and treatments such as hormone therapy remotely.
The Daily Mail reported that the clinic has already faced criticism "from psychologists who say it uses untested drugs on troubled children and 'rushes' them toward becoming transgender."
The Gender Identity Development Service, run by an NHS trust, is advocating for the necessity of remote consultations for gender confusion issues.
"The Trust is working to minimize waiting times and make clinical support easier to access, including eliminating travel time for young people and their families, which will also allow us to offer appointments earlier and later in the day," a spokesman said. "As with the rest of the NHS, innovations like telemedicine are an addition and will not mean the removal or inability to access face-to-face consultations.
"The Trust and GIDS welcome all open and informed discussion and decision-making around the best way to support young people experiencing difficulties or distress around their gender identity," the statement continued.
The statement did not address concerns about the ability of a medical professional to accurately diagnose gender confusion or dysphoria remotely, particularly in young children who may not even have fully formed concepts of gender.