A British doctor providing care for trans patients has been suspended yesterday (16 May).
The General Medical Council (GMC) has suspended Dr. Mike Webberley, the sole provider of care for 1,600 transgender patients. He is the fourth UK gender-affirming doctor to be subject to GMC restrictions.
Webberley’s wife, Dr. Helen Webberley, was fined in 2018 for failing to register her trans health online services with a health regulator in Wales.
In 2017, she was suspended from providing care to transgender patients. Her husband took over full provision of their care as there is no alternate interim provision available on the NHS.
Dr. Mike Webberley appeared before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. The hearing followed a report commissioned by the GMC to provide an expert opinion on Dr. Webberley’s work.
This expert witness was asked to evaluate Dr. Webberley’s qualifications, training and expertise in this field. Furthermore, he evaluated the care given to three younger gender variant patients.
The expert opined that Dr. Webberley was not qualified to provide care to trans patients. He also felt that Dr. Webberley had not undertaken any recognised training pathway in transgender care and was not on a specialist register to be able to provide such care.
However, GenderGP claimed that GMC failed to share Dr. Mike Webberley’s CV, his resume of clinical experience, or his response to the allegations against him.
Despite the GMC legal team ‘offering their apologies for that omission’, the GMC tribunal went ahead and suspended Dr. Webberley from all medical activities.
The GMS was also fully aware that any temporary suspension would result in the abrupt cessation of care to Dr. Webberley’s patients.
A blow for the non-binary and trans community
‘This is yet another body blow to those members of the trans and non-binary community who are unable to access timely care on the NHS,’ Dr. Mike Webberley told GSN in a statement.
Webberley has been a hospital consultant for 23 years, and an NHS doctor for 34 years. Although he specialized in gastroenterology, his specialities include acute and chronic medical conditions, surgery, paediatrics, endocrinology and psychiatry.
‘I have worked with patients of all ages throughout my career, including looking after young Crohn’s patients with delayed puberty. Latterly I have specialized in the field of transgender care, an area which notoriously lacks enough doctors to treat the growing demand.’
He furthermore added: ‘At no point, other than during this period of time working with gender variant people, has my ability to care for patients been called into question.
‘In the UK, transgender and non-binary people are made to jump through hoops time and again, to access the healthcare they need. In no other area of medicine is this level of blatant discrimination allowed.
‘This group of people has the same rights as any other person in the UK to be able to access interim services while they wait for care on the NHS. If UK doctors are to be blocked from providing this care, alternative provision must be made, or people will be forced to self medicate with no support or monitoring. Surely this cannot be an acceptable outcome as far as the GMC is concerned?’
Following the GMC decision, the Webberleys are taking all GenderGP services outside of the UK.
‘We will not give up on the trans community. We will continue to manage GenderGP as an organization, from Malaga in Spain, where we spend a large part of our time and to oversee the multitude of trans friendly services that people can access via the website,’ Webberley said.
He then added: ‘We will also continue to fight for the rights of gender variant people to fair access to healthcare via our advocacy work.’
The investigations into Helen and Mike Webberley are still ongoing and no definitive conclusions have been made.
‘An Interim Orders Tribunal can suspend or restrict a doctor’s practice while a GMC investigation continues, if it is necessary for the protection of the public, or otherwise be in the public interest or in the interests of the doctor,’ a spokesperson for GMC told GSN.