Correspondence regarding review and update of gender reassignment protocol: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

"Copies of any emails or letters sent to the chief medical officer, or the deputy chief medical officer, regarding the review and update of Scotland's gender reassignment protocol received in November and December 2022.", and "any replies to these sent by the CMO/deputy CMO, even if these were sent later than December 2022."


I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. I attach copies of correspondence held by the Scottish Government addressed to the chief medical officer, or the deputy chief medical officer, regarding the review and update of Scotland's gender reassignment protocol that were received in November and December 2022. This correspondence has been redacted in accordance with section 38(1)(b) of FOISA to protect the personal information of individuals.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because additional exemptions under sections 25(1), 29(1)(a) and 30(b)(i) of FOISA apply to that information.

Section 25(1) of FOISA states that “information which the applicant can reasonably obtain other than by requesting it under section 1(1) is exempt information.” . This exemption has been applied to an email from NHS National Services Scotland to the Chief Medical Officer, which is publicly available here.

Section 29(1)(a) of FOISA states that “information held by the Scottish Administration is exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of government policy.”

Section 30(b)(i) of FOISA states that “information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice.”

Exemptions under sections 29 and 30 of FOISA are subject to the “public interest test”. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release because of the salience of the subject of gender identity healthcare in current public discourse. This is, however, outweighed by the public interest in allowing space for policy development on a sensitive matter.

You may wish to note that while the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Gregor Smith, and Deputy Chief Medical Officers, Professor Nicola Steedman, Professor Graham Ellis and Professor Marion Bain, are based in the Scottish Government and are supported by Scottish Government civil servants, “The Chief Medical Officer of the Scottish Administration” including the Deputy Chief Medical Officers, is designated (at Part 2 of Schedule 1 of FOISA) as a wholly separate public authority from the Scottish Government. It should also be noted that requests for information submitted under FOISA cannot be transferred from one authority to another.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI 202300372782 - Information Released - Attachments A to H


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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