27 July 2021

Online transgender clinic founder faces tribunal over patient care

27 July 2021

A doctor who offered hormonal treatment to children has appeared at a tribunal accused of failing to provide good clinical care to patients.

Dr Helen Webberley founder of online transgender clinic GenderGP, appeared via videolink at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing in Manchester on Tuesday.

The General Medical Council (GMC) charges against her include that she failed to provide good clinical care to three child patients before prescribing testosterone treatment and, in one case, puberty blocker treatment GnHRA, in 2016.

It is alleged she prescribed testosterone to one of the children, referred to as patient A, when it was not appropriate for use in someone of that age.

She is also alleged to have failed to obtain adequate medical histories and arrange adequate examinations before making the prescriptions.

When treating the patients she failed to adhere to professional guidelines and knew, or ought to have known, she was acting outside of the limits of her competence as a GP with a special interest in gender dysphoria, according to the charges.

A stethoscope (Lynne Cameron/PA) (PA Wire)

Dr Webberley, from Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales, is described as the “principal provider” of the Gender GP website, which the GMC said offered hormonal treatment to children without referencing the input of any accredited paediatric specialist or a safeguarding policy.

The charges against Dr Webberley state that the operating method of the online clinic is “motivated by efforts to avoid the regulatory framework of the United Kingdom”.

The 29 charges also include allegations she lied about being a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and “frustrated” attempts by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to review her online prescribing practices.

Dr Webberley was fined £12,000 in 2018 after being convicted of running a medical agency without being registered.

Ian Stern QC, representing Dr Webberley, said she admitted charges relating to her conviction in 2018 and admitted submitting a signed witness statement to the Interim Orders Tribunal which stated she had been a member of the RCGP since 1996.

He said she did not admit any of the other charges and there was no admission in relation to an impairment to her fitness to practise.

Simon Jackson QC, representing the GMC, said Dr Webberley had set herself up as an online GP with a “special interest” in the provision of medical care to transgender patients on a private basis.

He said the tribunal was not about the approach of doctors providing puberty blockers and hormonal treatments to transgender patients but was focused on whether Dr Webberley was competent and experienced enough.

He added: “One of the issues for the tribunal to consider is not whether or not Dr Webberley regards herself as a gender specialist, but whether there are others who would regard her as having that necessary standard of expertise and training.”

Mr Jackson told the hearing the GMC did not take issue with Dr Webberley’s role as an advocate for improving treatment for transgender patients, but said she did not have the competence required for the role of “lead clinician” and should have restricted her role to the context of a multi-disciplinary team.

He added: “The GMC observe such forceful advocacy should not be permitted to influence a doctor’s prescribing practices.”

Mr Jackson is due to continue opening the GMC’s case on Wednesday.

The tribunal is expected to last until October 15.

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