UK

Doctor is struck off for prescribing sex change drugs via private ‘online GenderGp clinic’

A consultant physician has been stuck off for wrongly prescribing sex-change treatments to seven transgender patients – one who was aged just nine and another a teenager who took their own life few months later.

Dr Michael Webberley, who spent 34 years working for the NHS, provided puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones via GenderGP, an online gender clinic which he ran with his GP wife Dr Helen Webberley.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel found there had been a ‘catalogue of failings’ in relation to his care of the seven patients between February 2017 and June 2019.

In several cases, he’d taken care of the patients after restrictions had been placed on his wife’s practice.

But several doctors raised concerns about his treatment with the GMC (General Medical Council) and he was later suspended.

With all seven patients, he provided treatment that wasn’t clinically indicated or had been prescribed without adequate tests, examinations or assessments.

He’d reached diagnoses of gender dysphoria – ‘a sense of unease a person may have because of mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity’, according to the NHS – based on inadequate information and failed to gain informed consent from patients.

The tribunal also found he had acted ‘outside the limits of his expertise’ as a consultant gastroenterologist and had failed to establish multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs).

Dr Michael Webberley, 55, wrongly prescribed sex-change treatments to seven transgender patients, a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel has found

Dr Michael Webberley, who spent 34 years working for the NHS, provided puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones via GenderGP, an online gender clinic which he ran with his GP wife Dr Helen Webberley (couple pictured together)

Dr Michael Webberley, who spent 34 years working for the NHS, provided puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones via GenderGP, an online gender clinic which he ran with his GP wife Dr Helen Webberley (couple pictured together)

The tribunal heard about one nine-year-old patient – know as Patient V – who’d been born a biological girl but identified as a boy.

Dr Webberley diagnosed the patient as suffering from gender dysphoria based on a questionnaire that was ‘inadequate for the assessment of a minor’ and without performing an adequate mental or physical examination.

He then prescribed puberty blockers – which pause the physical changes of puberty – off-licence and without considering alternative treatments or adequately assessing the balance between the risks and benefits.

A 17-year-patient – known as Patient W – was transitioning from female to male and first contacted Dr Webberley in June 2018.

The patient had become unhappy at the long waiting lists for NHS treatment and said in an email that they wanted to transition as soon as possible as it would have a ‘massively positive impact’ on their mental health.

‘I have been waiting to go on hormones so long now and it means so much to me,’ they added. ‘I am so happy it is finally happening.’

But Dr Webberley diagnosed Patient W as gender dysphoric without checking information with their GP.

The tribunal also found that he prescribed testosterone when it wasn’t clinically indicated and without establishing whether the risks were lower than the risks to the patient’s mental and physical health.

Patient W had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and had ‘complex’ and long-standing mental health issues but it ‘did not appear’ that Dr Webberley was aware of them and he’d failed to obtain the patient’s medical records, the tribunal concluded.

Sadly, Patient W took their own life just three months later.

Patient W is believed to be Jayden Lowe, who was prescribed the treatment by the GenderGP clinic and subsequently stepped in front of a train.

Pictured: Jayden Lowe, a transgender teenager who took his own life in 2018 by stepping in front of a train after being prescribed hormone treatment by GenderGP

Pictured: Jayden Lowe, a transgender teenager who took his own life in 2018 by stepping in front of a train after being prescribed hormone treatment by GenderGP

A coroner ruled that Lowe had committed suicide months after receiving the treatment

A coroner ruled that Lowe had committed suicide months after receiving the treatment

In summary, the tribunal found that on no occasion had Dr Webberley disagreed with diagnosis sought by each trans patient.

In ‘every case’ the patient was prescribed the treatment which they’d sought at the outset.

The ‘apparent intention’ was ‘to prescribe according to the patient’s wishes’ and not by following an adequate and critical objective assessment before making a diagnosis and concluding the treatment was clinically indicated, it found.

Dr Webberley, who’d faced 89 charges in total, was also found guilty of failings in relation to 18 other patients who received androgen treatment for male hypogonadism – a condition when not enough sex hormones are produced by the body – via a company called Balance My Hormones.

The tribunal noted his ‘wide ranging and sustained’ misconduct and dishonesty and said it was ‘fortuitous’ that none of his patients suffered serious harm.

Tribunal chair Tim Bradbury said: ‘The Tribunal had previously observed that, if Dr Webberley had not known that he was practising far beyond the limits of his competence, he should have done.

‘To this extent, the Tribunal considered that, at the very least, his disregard for the principles set out in GMP (General Medical Practise) and/or patient safety was reckless.’

In April, an MPTS tribunal cleared his wife of wrongly prescribing sex-change treatments to three young transgender patients.

But she admitted several charges relating to her conviction in October 2018 for illegally running an unregistered clinic while treating 1,600 transgender patients and gender dysphoric children from her home in Wales.

 

Dr Webberley, from Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, was later fined £12,000 and suspended.

Dr Helen Webberley, 53, was convicted in October 2018 for illegally running an unregistered clinic while treating 1,600 transgender patients and gender dysphoric children from her home in Wales

Dr Helen Webberley, 53, was convicted in October 2018 for illegally running an unregistered clinic while treating 1,600 transgender patients and gender dysphoric children from her home in Wales

A allegation against her husband that Gender GP’s operating method was ‘motivated by efforts to avoid the regulatory framework of the UK’, including regulation by the Care Quality Commission and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) was also found proved.

It noted how, following interim restrictions being placed on his practice, he’d relocated GenderGP to Spain so the clinic could continue to provide care to transgender patients that – in his words – was ‘unavailable’ in the UK.

He and his wife are no longer directors of the company.

Gender GP said in a statement: ‘Although Dr. Michael Webberley has not been involved in GenderGP for some time, we as an organisation, and our patient community, are here in part because of his efforts and courage in putting everything on the line to provide the best care possible for his patients.

Gender Affirming Healthcare has made great strides, producing better care outcomes for trans people around the world, and providing protocols that transform people’s lives. Dr. Michael Webberley’s patients have been united and unwavering in their support, feedback, and thanks for his role in helping progress models of care that have aided them to live as themselves.

Unfortunately, as equal healthcare moves forward around the world, there is further progress to make in the UK. The contradictory findings of the Drs. Webberley’s cases demonstrate two things: the importance of having the opportunity to defend yourself, and the lack of key expertise, and a united approach, in the provision of trans care within the UK.’


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