Dr Helen Webberley, the doctor behind private transgender clinic Gender GP, has been fined £12,000.
Abergavenny GP Dr Helen Webberley had set up online service Gender GP—a private clinic for transgender patients—to cater for people who would otherwise be left waiting years for specialist NHS appointments due to spiralling backlogs.
Thousands of trans people have received hormones and other treatment through the service, which is the only clinic of its kind in the UK.
However, the doctor was found guilty of providing an unregistered online medical clinic, as she failed to register with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) during Gender GP’s period of operation between March 2017 and February 2018.
At a December 3 hearing at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates Court, Webberley was handed a fine of £12,000, while Gender GP was fined an additional £2,000.
Webberley was also told to pay £11,307 costs.
Dr Helen Webberley says Gender GP ‘always followed guidelines’ for transgender care
Russell Davies, defending, said that the doctor “didn’t appreciate that the company needed registration” separate from her medical license “until it was pointed out to her,” and “always followed the international guidelines for transgender care.”
However, District Judge Neil Thomas said the event was “serious” and said there had been a “clear refusal to follow the law” by failing to register.
The BBC reports that the General Medical Council has extended a probe into Webberley for a further 12 months.
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Dr Kate Chamberlain of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales said: “Unregistered healthcare services pose a risk to patient safety as they are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as registered services.
“HIW’s role is to check that patients receive good care and we are committed to taking action where standards are not met and against those who provide services illegally. I am pleased that we have done so successfully in this case.”
Dr Helen Webberley: Outcome is’ absolutely devastating’
Gender GP, which has moved its services to England and is run by the founder’s husband Dr Mike Webberley, said in a statement: “We fully acknowledge that services such as ours need to be registered and we are actively pursuing registration with the relevant regulators. In the meantime services remain unaffected.”
In a statement, Dr Helen Webberley said: “I was stunned at the outcome of the hearing held in August which reached its conclusion today.
“I began providing private healthcare to the trans and non binary community because there was a desperate need and there was no such NHS provision within Wales.
“My work, which so many of my patients have called life-saving, has now resulted in a criminal record and this is absolutely devastating for me.”
“The needs of this minority group of people must be recognised. We as a country can do better.”
— Dr Helen Webberley
She added: “I never set out to break the law. I had hoped to be able to work with the HIW to register my services while continuing to provide the care that was so desperately needed, but sadly this was not an option.
“The needs of this minority group of people must be recognised. We as a country can do better. The NHS waiting time of up to four years for a first appointment is unconstitutional. Better interim care options must be provided and I urge regulators to take a more collaborative approach.”