One of the leading doctors advising transgender people in the UK is in the clear after almost four years under investigation into alleged professional misconduct.
The General Medical Council (GMC) started looking into Dr Richard Curtis in 2011 but throughout the investigation he has been widely supported by the trans community.
Today trans activists responded to the news he had been cleared at last with relief but expressed anger at the GMC for investigating Curtis while real neglect and mistreatment of trans patients in the National Health Service has apparently been ignored.
While Dr Curtis is not a gender-reassignment surgeon, his role is crucial for many British transgender people wishing to transition. He carries out assessments, prescribes hormones and hormone blockers, and refers people to surgeons.
The most serious complaint against Dr Curtis’ Transhealth practice was that a patient who had a double mastectomy and hormone therapy later claimed they regretted the decision.
Separately, it was alleged that he had prescribed gender reassignment drugs to a patient under 18, without the specialist knowledge and skills to do so.
This, it was claimed, had been done without referring the patient for a second opinion or before they had undergone counseling.
This would have breached conditions placed on Transhealth by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), in November 2011, which included a ban on prescribing hormone treatment for trans patients.
The investigation achieved national notoriety when Guardian journalist, David Batty, wrote about this case in January 2013.
Critics in the trans community claimed the mainstream media appeared to have an exceptional and one-sided interest in what was widely considered a ‘witch hunt’ against one of the UK’s best-known trans-friendly physicians.
The critics claim they had willfully ignored the much more serious issue of widespread abuse and discrimination against trans patients throughout the NHS.
An angry backlash followed: The Twitter #TransDocFail campaign led to a dossier of over 100 cases of serious and sometimes dangerous mistreatment of trans patients being formally presented to the GMC.
However, in the two years since, there has been little progress and no action appears to have been taken against a single doctor as a result.
Gay Star News contributor Helen Belcher sits on the parliamentary forum on gender identity and took a leading role in in providing this evidence to the GMC.
She questioned the GMC’s fitness to act as a regulator in this respect, asking: ‘Why did it take four years for the GMC to decide there wasn’t a case?
‘What actions have the GMC taken around the dozens of allegations they said they wished to investigate from #TransDocFail?
‘I am concerned that we have a regulator that is not fit for purpose and is failing to investigate Human Rights abuses and worse, alleged by a number of trans people over many years.
‘Not only are they failing patients: they are failing medical professionals too, as practitioners such as Richard Curtis must sit by for years, often with their practices restricted for ultimately no reason, while the GMC investigate charges that lead nowhere.’
Zoe O’Connell, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Maldon and secretary of Lib Dem LGBT+ said: ‘The GMC needs to report publicly on what actions it is taking to ensure that complaints from trans people are taken seriously and what it is doing to ensure we can not have a repeat of what appears to be a continuation of a vendetta in the bringing of a case against Richard Curtis.
‘It should not have taken four years to get this far.’
In a statement released today, Dr Curtis said: ‘It is with much relief that I announce the conclusion of the GMC investigation which has now been in process for nearly four years.
‘In short the GMC have entirely dismissed the case. There was no Fitness to Practice hearing and no sanctions.
‘The conditions which were imposed over three years ago, as it turns out, inappropriately, will be removed when the process for that to occur is administered by the GMC and should be a formality.
‘I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all those who have given their support during this very difficult time.’
We have asked the GMC to comment on this case – and to respond to concerns from within the trans community. They have not yet responded.