Medical regulator slaps ban on doctor who set up private clinic to help trans children
A GP who set up a private medical clinic to help trans children has been slapped with a ban by a medical regulator.
Dr Helen Webberley from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire set up the clinic in her own home in order to help young trans people who faced an extensive wait under the NHS.
The Welsh GP has been accused of prescribing hormones to children aged 12 and up.
Webberley, who has treated more than 850 trans patients, said that she began prescribing treatments because NHS services were “bursting at the seams”.
She also admitted to giving hormone therapy to four children and said that while it was “very unusual” that people would “understand” if they had met the children.
She added: “To keep [children] pre-pubertal until they’re 16 is just killing for them, literally, because they do harm themselves.”
“Screaming in agony at being stuck in a puberty that isn’t right for them”.
A handful of her patients could not get treatment with the NHS so turned to her private clinic for help.
The General Medical Council (GMC) has slapped a temporary ban on Dr Webberley from treating trans patients without supervision.
The ban has been put in place while the disciplinary body carries out a full investigation that was sparked after two formal complaints were lodged against her by NHS consultants.
However, Webberley was frustrated by the long wait many trans children faced and so she began charging between £75 and £150 for private appointments in which she treated trans patients.
The GMC has also imposed conditions on her registration however it cannot comment on the investigation as it is still ongoing.
A note in her registration reportedly reads that all work “in relation to transgender patients must be supervised by a clinical supervisor”.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Webberley said that the ban was “a temporary thing while they’re investigating.”
Reports by The Sunday Times and The Mail Online have claimed that the NHS guidelines state that under 18’s cannot under go hormone therapy.
While it is true that therapy treatment rather than medical or surgical treatment is preferred by the NHS for under 18s, hormone therapy is not a completely unattainable option.
NHS states that if a child has reached therapy than they can be treated with synthetic hormones which suppress hormones naturally produced by the body.
Also, trans patients aged 17 and over may be seen in an adult gender clinic and are entitled to consent to their own treatment.
The report in the Sunday Times also quoted transphobic organisation Transgender Trend calling Webberley a “rogue doctor”.
Transgender Trend deems itself a website for parents who question their children’s trans identity.
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England only has one NHS gender identity clinic for children at the Tavistock Centre in North London.
Dr Polly Carmichael of the centre said that it was important to remember about “very young people is that their thinking changes”.
Referrals of under 18s to the Tavistock Centre rose 42% last year to more than 2,000.
84 of those who were referred were aged seven or younger.