Doctor compromised child patient’s safety with puberty blockers, panel told

Dr Helen Webberley, who ran an unregistered online transgender clinic, is accused of failing to provide good clinical care to three patients.

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

A doctor who ran an unregistered online transgender clinic compromised an 11-year-old patient’s safety when she prescribed puberty blockers, a medical tribunal has heard.

Dr Helen Webberley, the founder of website GenderGP, has been accused of failing to provide good clinical care in 2016 to three patients, aged 11, 12 and 17, who were transitioning from female to male.

At a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing on Wednesday, Simon Jackson QC, representing the General Medical Council (GMC), said Dr Webberley prescribed GnHRA, or puberty blockers, to the 11-year-old, referred to as Patient C.

He said experts, instructed by the GMC, criticised the inadequate assessment and lack of follow-up care given to the patient.

Dr John Dean, chairman of the NHS National Clinical Reference Group for Gender Identity Services, said Dr Webberley had fallen seriously below the standard of care expected, the tribunal heard.

Mr Jackson added: “Dr Webberley compromised the patient’s safety and treatment outcome and put them at risk.”

The tribunal, in Manchester, heard Patient A, a 12-year-old, was prescribed testosterone by Dr Webberley.

Mr Jackson said the patient had been under the care of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and University College Hospitals London, but his family had contacted Dr Webberley online.

The tribunal heard Patient A had started therapy with the NHS to “hold up puberty” but clinical practice was that gender-affirming hormone treatment should not be introduced until patients were at least 16.

Mr Jackson said the issue of “perceived delays” in NHS treatment was relevant to the background to the case.

He added: “Patient demand for treatment may be urgent and pressing but good medical practice nonetheless remains the touchstone of all prescribing practice.”

The hearing was told Dr Webberley did not engage with a multi-disciplinary team before giving the prescription, other than asking her husband Michael Webberley, a consultant gastroenterologist.

Patient B was referred to a child psychiatrist in 2017, aged 17, after being prescribed testosterone by Dr Webberley the previous year, the tribunal heard.

Mr Jackson said: “Patient B stated his head and mood were, in terms, all over the place.”

The tribunal heard the teenager’s psychiatrist tried to contact Dr Webberley to discuss the treatment but was unable to reach her.

Gender signage (Martin Keene/PA)
Gender signage (Martin Keene/PA)

Dr Dean found Dr Webberley, who appeared at the tribunal over videolink, fell seriously below the standards expected in relation to inadequate follow-up care for the patient, Mr Jackson said.

But, the tribunal heard the patient and his mother said they were happy with the treatment from Dr Webberley and were initially reluctant to re-engage with an NHS gender identity clinic.

Dr Webberley, from Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales, was convicted in 2018 of running an independent medical agency without being registered.

She faces 29 charges at the medical tribunal, including 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.

The hearing is expected to last until October 15.

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