A doctor whose actions were described as “reckless” after a tribunal heard he prescribed puberty blockers to a nine-year-old child after a ten minute Skype call has been struck off the medical register.
Dr Michael Webberley worked with GenderGP, a controversial private clinic, with his wife Dr Helen Webberley, also a GP. She was convicted in 2018 of running an independent medical agency without being registered – and in April of this year a tribunal found she had failed to provide adequate follow-up care after prescribing testosterone to three ‘transitioning’ girls aged 11, 12, and 17.
An investigation by The Telegraph into GenderGP found that the online clinic “was prepared to prescribe sex change drugs to children as young as 12 without asking them to talk to a doctor”. The Webberley’s moved the clinic from Wales to Spain after being suspended by the General Medical Council.
Now the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), acting on a complaint from several doctors, has ruled that Micheal Webberley be struck from the medical register.
“While working at Gender GP, he failed to provide good clinical care, conduct proper tests and gain consent from seven patients who reported gender distress, including a 9 year old girl and a 17 year old boy who later took their own life,” the MPTS said.
It ruled that his behaviour was “fundamentally incompatible with being a doctor” and amounted to “serious misconduct”. The tribunal said that “androgen patients and the transgender patients were put at risk of serious harm by Dr Webberley’s actions”.
The Tribunal determined that Dr Webberley lacked sufficient specialist knowledge, experience or training in the provision of transgender care.
The medical board described his treatment of 24 patients between February 2017 and June 2019 as a “catalogue of failings”.
“The extensive and sustained nature of the failings” which “coupled with findings of dishonesty within the context of Dr Webberley’s medical practise”, represented a “particularly serious departure from the principles set out in GMP and demonstrated behaviour that was fundamentally incompatible with being a doctor,” they ruled.
The Tribunal’s found there was wide ranging failures in Webberley’s treatment of numerous patients which included:
- Failure to conduct or obtain adequate psychological assessments or mental health assessments;
- Making inappropriate diagnoses or diagnosing without adequate information;
- Inappropriate and/or unsafe prescribing, and/or prescribing (or allowing patients to be prescribed to) without clinical indication and/or sufficient information;
- Failures to obtain informed consent;
- Failures to adequately engage with other clinicians involved in a patient’s care;
- Failures to provide adequate follow-up care;
- Failures to establish adequate MDTs;
- Providing care outwith his competence and without the necessary qualifications and/or expertise; and, dishonesty linked to the obtaining of consent.
It ruled that “a number of the transgender patients were vulnerable by reason of their age and/or mental health”.
One of the teenagers whose cases were examined by the panel was a 17-year-patient described as Patient W but believed to be Jayden Lowe, a teenager who took his own life four years ago while being treated by Webberley.
The patient was transitioning from female to male and first contacted Dr Webberley in June 2018 because of frustrations with long waiting lists for NHS treatment. Bur Webberley diagnosed the patient as gender dysphoric without checking information with his GP.
Patient W had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and had ‘complex’ and long-standing mental health issues. The tribunal found that it ‘did not appear’ that Dr Webberley was aware of these issues and he failed to obtain the patient’s medical records.
Webberley prescribed testosterone to Patient W when it wasn’t clinically indicated and without establishing whether the risks were lower than the risks to the patient’s mental and physical health.
Patient W died by suicide just three months later after stepping in front of a train.
With regard to another patient, identified by the Tribunal as S, the panel found that “Michael Webberley failed to provide good clinical care to Patient S in reaching a diagnosis of gender dysphoria based upon findings resulting from inadequate assessment & prescribed oestrogen and anti-androgens being able to ensure it was clinically indicated.”
“[A]s the Tribunal previously determined, a diagnosis of gender dysphoria does not mean that the prescription of cross sex hormones is the only appropriate treatment,” they noted.
“Webberley was found not to have discussed alternative treatments with Patient S. He prescribed oestrogen and anti-androgens without adequate monitoring of the physical & psychosocial responses to treatment. Webberley continued to prescribe oestrogen to Patient S despite evidence that the dose was excessive and S starting to experience known risks.”