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GP who ran transgender clinic wins appeal after misconduct finding

31 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Dr Helen Webberley. Photo Jordan Pettitt. PA Images

A GP who ran an online clinic for transgender patients has won a High Court appeal after a tribunal made a misconduct finding and imposed a two-month suspension.

Helen Webberley, founder of a website called GenderGP, was found to have committed serious misconduct by a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel in June 2022.

A High Court judge on Friday allowed an appeal by Dr Webberley after concluding that the panel’s “determination on the issue of misconduct” was “wrong”.

Mr Justice Jay had considered arguments at a recent High Court hearing in London.

Dr Webberley, from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, had staged an appeal at a recent High Court hearing in London and argued that the tribunal had made errors.

The General Medical Council said Dr Webberley’s appeal should be dismissed.

Mr Justice Jay, who has outlined his conclusions in a written ruling published online, said the panel had been dealing with a “case of the utmost complexity and sensitivity”.

He said the panel’s “analysis of the issue of serious misconduct” was “wrong”.

“The (panel’s) thinking was confused, clearly wrong in places, and it omitted reference to important evidence,” said Mr Justice Jay.

“Having conducted my own analysis of the relevant material, I am entirely unable to conclude that this appeal should be dismissed because the appellant was guilty of serious misconduct.”

He added: “This appeal must be allowed on the ground that the (panel’s) determination on the issue of misconduct was wrong.”

Background

A barrister representing the General Medical Council had outlined the background to the case at the hearing – and said Dr Webberley was a GP who provided services to transgender patients and ran a website called GenderGP.

Peter Mant had told the judge, in a written case outline, that allegations against Dr Webberley concerned her treatment of “three transgender children or adolescents and various other matters”.

Mr Mant said the sanction imposed related to “one head of charge, concerning one patient”.

That patient was not named at the hearing but identified as “Patient C”.

Mr Mant said “Patient C” was a teenager “assigned female at birth” who identified as male.

“The misconduct for which the sanction was imposed concerned failure to provide good clinical care to a transgender child (“Patient C”) in not discussing the risks before commencing treatment with puberty blockers,” Mr Mant told the judge.

“The tribunal found that suspension was necessary to protect the public as the appellant did not have insight into her failings.”

Mr Justice Jay said he had “concerns” about “certain aspects” of Dr Webberley’s “practice” in relation to Patient C – including a “failure to have a face-to-face consultation on the issue of fertility”.

But he added: “… it is far from clear to me that what did take place should be strongly criticised.”

The judge went on: “The sole focus of this appeal has been the quality of the appellant’s clinical practice in relation to one patient, Patient C.

“This appeal does not raise any wider issues about the wisdom or otherwise of administering puberty blockers to the younger age group who wish to undergo interventions for gender reassignment with full parental agreement.”

He said Dr Webberley’s case “ends here” and would not be remitted to a tribunal panel for redetermination.


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