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Doctor suspended for prescribing trans hormone drugs without properly assessing patients

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Pxabay/DarkoStojanovic

A doctor based in the United Kingdom has had his license suspended over allegations that he prescribed cross-sex hormones to patients without adequately assessing them beforehand, one of whom took their own life a few months later. 

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal ordered the erasure of Dr. Michael Webberley's license to practice medicine Wednesday following a six-month suspension. Webberley is alleged to have run an online clinic that prescribed puberty blockers to kids as young as 9 without being assessed by a doctor. 

According to the General Medical Council, which works "to protect patient safety and improve medical education and practice across the U.K.," Webberley's erasure is "not yet in force, pending an appeal period." His erasure follows a Nov. 14 suspension.

Allegations of wrongdoing against Webberley prompted the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, which makes "independent decisions about whether doctors are fit to practice medicine" in the U.K., to investigate Webberley's medical practices. A hearing took place Wednesday.

In the ruling ordering the revocation of Webberley's medical license, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal determined that "erasing Dr. Webberley's name from the Medical Register is the only appropriate sanction in order to meet the overarching objective, which is to protect patients, maintain public confidence in the medical profession and uphold proper professional standards."

A group of volunteer citizen reporters has created a Twitter account devoted to covering Webberley's misconduct tribunal.

The account, which has the handle @tribunaltweets2, live-tweeted the proceedings of Webberley's trial. The group's corresponding Substack account outlined the allegations against Webberley, who founded the gender clinic GenderGP along with his wife, Helen.

"The tribunal will inquire into the allegation that, between April 2017 and June 2019, Dr. Webberley failed to provide good clinical care to 25 patients. It is alleged that Dr. Webberley's failings related variously to consultation, history taking, examination, diagnosis, prescribing, communication, follow up, informed consent, assessment, working with colleagues, working within the limits of his expertise and working within guidance," a summary of the allegations against him posted at the beginning of the trial stated.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal accused Webberley of a "wide range" of failures in relation to the numerous patients.

Webberley is said to have failed to conduct or obtain adequate psychological and mental health assessments and made "inappropriate diagnoses" without "accurate information."

The doctor is accused of prescribing patients "without clinical indication and/or sufficient information." Additionally, he is charged with failure to obtain informed consent.

Webberley also allegedly failed to "adequately engage with other clinicians involved in a patient's care," did not "provide adequate follow-up care" and engaged in "dishonesty linked to the obtaining of consent."

"The Tribunal's findings included findings of dishonesty in relation to the consenting of the androgen patient," the order from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Services states, according to the copy shared by the Twitter account.  

Webberley is said to have inappropriately diagnosed male patients with hypogonadism and prescribed them androgen hormones. Hypogonadism results in the reduced production of sex hormones. Some of those patients "experienced androgen toxicity."

The determination of the facts compiled by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service revealed that one of seven trans-identified patients he treated "took his own life" after "receiving hormone treatment from GP."

The tribunal accuses Webberley of diagnosing a trans-identified patient with gender dysphoria without conducting a "physical assessment" or a "face-to-face video consultation," instead relying on counselors who aren't registered with a recognized regulatory body. 

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service also found that Webberley "prescribed oestrogen and anti-androgens to Patient S without" adequately monitoring their physical and psychological response to the treatment and failing to discuss "alternative treatments."

The determination of the facts noted that Webberley continued to prescribe "excessive" doses of estrogen to the patient even though the patient was experiencing "known risks." Webberley reportedly failed to consider that the patient was on the autistic spectrum.

When treating another patient, identified as "Patient V," Webberley provided the parents with a leaflet that "incorrectly advised that hormone blockers are fully reversible."

He also allegedly provided false information to parents asserting that "testosterone could be prescribed to patients under 16 in exceptional circumstances."

In a statement, GenderGP said that Webberley had not been involved with the practice for "some time" but praised his "courage in putting everything on the line to provide the best care possible for his patients."

"Gender Affirming Healthcare has made great strides, producing better care outcomes for trans people around the world, and providing protocols that transform people’s lives," the May 19 statement reads. "Dr. Michael Webberley’s patients have been united and unwavering in their support, feedback, and thanks for his role in helping progress models of care that have aided them to live as themselves."

The erasure of Webberley's medical license comes more than three years after his wife Helen faced a fine the equivalent of $15,000 for running Gender GP illegally out of her home. While Mrs. Webberley had her license to practice medicine suspended in 2018, it was reinstated earlier this year with conditions including a "ban on prescribing any drugs, and a requirement to keep a log detailing every consultation with a transgender patient."

GenderGP claims that despite "equal healthcare" moving forward globally, "there is further progress to make in the UK."

"The contradictory findings of the Drs. Webberley’s cases demonstrate two things: the importance of having the opportunity to defend yourself, and the lack of key expertise, and a united approach, in the provision of trans care within the UK," the statement adds.

"GenderGP as an international provider has continued the fight for equal access to healthcare, applying globally recognised protocols and standards, and will continue to do everything we can to provide vital care and support to our patients and the trans community."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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