Scotland's only clinic that helps young people change gender has been closed to new patients due to “significant pressure” on the service and could be hit by a funding cut.

The Sandyford provide a range of sexual, reproductive and emotional health services, including emergency contraception, abortion, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and counselling for rape and sexual assault.

The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde-run service also offers a “comprehensive” service for young people aged from 13 who are uncertain about their gender identity and adult transgender and non-binary people considering medical treatment or surgery.

A message on the website states that due to pressure within the service and a significant reduction in staff it is unable to offer new appointments to young people. Adult appointments are also limited.

READ MORE: Politicians call for Sandyford gender identity service to close 

The health board said there would be no change for patients who are already in the system.

The Herald understands that the over-stretched Sandyford service is also facing a funding cut of around half a million pounds a year.

The Glasgow City Health and Care Partnership (CHCP) said “all aspects” of health and social care services were being considered and that difficult decisions would have to be made.

There have been calls for the Sandyford gender clinic to be closed after NHS England decided to wind up the equivalent service in London.

It followed a review which raised concerns about gender dysphoria being treated in isolation from other mental health issues at the Tavistock clinic.

NHS GGC runs four Sandyford clinics in Glasgow, including the main centre at Sandyford Place and others in Clydebank, Greenock and Paisley.

The service website said enquiries from young people would still be dealt with but may take up to two2 weeks and said system pressures were being reviewed at board and national level.

The message adds: “We acknowledge the stress and anxiety this might cause for any person or family/friend of a person waiting to access our service and we are sorry that we cannot offer more at this current time.”

Ceri Smith Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust said: “The news of these cuts to Sandyford’s sexual health services in Glasgow is concerning.

"Any reduction in services jeopardises the Scottish Government’s aims to end new cases of HIV by 2030 and improving the nation’s sexual health.

"Rates of Sexually transmitted infections, particularly gonorrhoea, have been on the rise in Scotland for a number of years, while sexual health funding has left services struggling to keep pace with demand.

"The Scottish Government cannot expect to see progress on tackling HIV and STIs without investing more in these vital services.”

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon is facing increased heat over gender recognition reforms which the UK government is attempting to block.

A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times found that 42% of respondents thought she should resign immediately, while 45% said she should remain as First Minister until at least the next Holyrood election.

The poll also found that the majority of those who expressed a view had safety concerns around the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was passed by MSPs in December and blocked by the UK Government.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon admits 'almost certainly the case' rapist not truly transgender 

The reforms would allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) without the need for a medical diagnosis.

The Bill would also allow 16 and 17-year-olds to apply for a GRC for the first time, and reduce the amount of time a person has to live in their acquired gender before they can be granted the document. 

Ms Sturgeon has said she intends to challenge the UK Government’s use of Section 35 to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law.

The survey, among 1,415 voters in Scotland, was carried out in the past week as the Scottish Prison Service published its review on the management of transgender prisoners in the wake of the Isla Bryson case.

Transgender prisoner Bryson, who was convicted last month of raping two women while still a man known as Adam Graham, was initially housed in an all-female prison before being moved to the male estate.

Opponents of self-identification has seized on the row as vindicating their concerns about lack of safeguards in the bill while monitoring groups have warned of a spike in hate crime towards transgender Scots that typically follows such focus.

A spokesman for NHS GGC said the service was now taking new referrals and the website had been updated.

He said: "As is the case throughout the country, services across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – including gender services at the Sandyford Clinic – and under considerable pressure.

"While our staff are working extremely hard to address these challenges, there may be times where patients need to wait longer than they would expect, and we apologise for that.

"However, we would like to reassure people that all services at the Sandyford clinic remain open and we continue to see patients as quickly as we can."

READ MORE: David Leask: The far right are hijacking Scotland's trans rights row

Commenting on the possible funding cut for the Sandyford, a spokeswoman for Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) said: “As is the case across Scotland, Glasgow City HSCP is currently examining its budget plans and funding arrangements for the coming year.

"All aspects of the services provided by the HSCP are being examined, and the process may involve some difficult decisions.

“No final decisions have been made, and it would be wrong to make any suggestion to the contrary at this time.”