A doctor known for treating trans teenagers as young as 12 is under investigation.
Doctor Helen Webberley is known for running an online trans medical clinic.
She set up her private gender clinic in her home in Monmouthshire, Wales in late 2014.
After multiple complaints from some London’s NHS gender specialists, the General Medical Council has launched an investigation into her practice.
Webberley explained to GSN: ‘Normally if a doctor has an issue with another doctor, you call or email them. I’m easily accessible! But apparently, that’s not the way these guys work. It’s the same guys in London who are making the complaints.
‘There were just so many complaints, the GMC got scared. When it was in the papers about me treating the 12-year old, they just got scared and decided they should launch a full investigation..’
Dr. Webberley’s clinic work with trans patients has been placed under an ‘interim order of conditions’.
This means she can continue her work with her patients but on a supervised basis.
Webberley believes ‘if they were really worried, they would have suspended my work completely.’
‘I was warned’
The investigation did not come as a surprise to her though.
Webberley explained: ‘I was warned. When I first started, I was told that if you look at the history, don’t be surprised if it happens to you.’
The cases referenced are that of Russell Reid and Richard Curtis.
Reid came under fire in 2007 for giving trans patients hormones after the first appointment. He would refer patients for genital surgery ‘without a firm diagnosis that they are transsexual or a proper psychiatric assessment.’
Curtis’ case came in 2013. Similar to Webberley, he gave hormones to children under the age of 16. It was said he ‘lacks the specialist knowledge and skills to adequately treat such patients on his own.’
Webberley anticipated she would potentially also be investigated and so did everything ‘whiter than white’ and followed every protocol.
She explained she is irritated by and embarrassed about the investigation. But, it will protect her and her work.
‘If the GMC can look at everything I do, I can come out with my “certificate” validating what I do. It will allow more GPs like me to consider also helping their trans patients’, she added.
‘The case of the 12-year old was very unusual’
Webberley earned herself attention in 2016 for treating a 12-year old.
She explained: ‘The case of the 12-year old was very unusual. They were very distressed and it was the charity Mermaids who suggested I help them. I asked how old they were and they said 12.
‘Just in case one person might change their mind, the NHS won’t let trans kids be treated any earlier than 16. That’s damaging for most children. They should have the option to be able to do it earlier than 16.’
The NHS is notorious for keeping trans waiting months for appointments.
‘There’s a gap in their teens because they’re not allowed to be referred to the gender identity clinic until they’re 16.
‘And then it takes months for them to get that appointment. And by the time they have that appointment they might be 17 and starting to be moved over to the adult services, where it could take over a year for them to get an appointment.’
‘Webberley is a godsend’
When news of the case of the 12-year old came out, Webberley explained some people were skeptical and the trans community watched her very carefully.
Now though, she has the seal of approval.
‘When the news of the investigation broke yesterday, Twitter and Facebook didn’t stop. The support is amazing.
We hear the doctors in the news saying I shouldn’t be doing this, but the community is saying “leave her alone because what she’s doing is amazing.”‘
It takes one look at Webberley’s Twitter to confirm this.
One Twitter user said: ‘Thank you. Your service has literally saved me whilst I’m stuck on the cruelty of the ever expanding wait to actually see an NHS GIC.’
Another labeled Webberley a ‘godsend’ to an over-stretched NHS.