A GP who offered drastic gender treatments to children as young as twelve who believed they were ‘in the wrong body’ has been found guilty of illegally providing healthcare services.
Helen Webberley ran an online GP clinic from her home in Abergavenny, and used her platform to operate a private clinic for people who feel uncomfortable in their body.
She was denied a licence for her online services last year, and was brought to prosecution by regulator Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) after she continued to operate.
Webberley charged between £75 and £150 per hour for her services, which included giving children puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.
Puberty blockers have been known to cause osteoporosis, while some research has linked the drugs with causing breast cancer, liver disease, thrombosis, cardiovascular disease, acne, high blood pressure and weight gain.
Cross-sex hormones are also associated with permanent infertility, and women who use testosterone are at increased risk of male pattern baldness, abnormal fat redistribution and potentially heart disease.
As a company director of the online clinic, she was convicted under the Care Standards Act, and District Judge Neil Thomas ruled that she had committed the offence through “consent, connivance or neglect”.
The GP set up her online clinic in March 2017, and was denied a licence in August of the same year, but continued practising until February.
She objected, saying that as a doctor registered with the General Medical Council (GMC), running her own clinic was no different to working in a private hospital.
However, the GMC is conducting its own investigation into her practices, and has the power to take further action against her following her conviction, which could lead to her medical licence being revoked.
Risk to patients
HIW Chief Executive Dr Kate Chamberlain welcomed the court’s decision, saying: “Unregistered healthcare services pose a risk to patient safety as they are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as registered services”.
Webberley will be sentenced next month and faces an unlimited fine.
She said her husband Mike, also a GP, will continue to provide treatments for people who express feelings of gender dsyphoria.