A clear refusal to follow the law

It turns out doctors can’t just fling meds around like so much potato chips. There are regulations.

The GP prosecuted for failing to register her online advice services for transgender patients with a health regulator in Wales says she has moved her service to England.

But Helen Webberley admits she has still not registered with inspectors there either.

She was fined £12,000 by a district judge who called the offence “serious”.

Webberley was also told to pay £11,307 costs and her company, Online GP Services, has been fined £2,000 at the court hearing in Merthyr Tydfil.

The Abergavenny GP started a private service for transgender patients online in 2015, and said she has treated thousands of patients in that time because waits for NHS services are so long.

But is what she does actually “treatment”? Does it cure a disease?

But a complaint was made to the General Medical Council (GMC) after she prescribed cross-gender hormones to a 12-year-old child.

Is that treatment, or is it something else?

District Judge Neil Thomas said: “In this case there seems to be a clear refusal to follow the law and that is a significant aggravating factor.

“Webberley was a doctor of considerable experience. The court has to regard this offence as serious.”

After the hearing she said she had never set out to break the law, adding: “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.”

Last year the GMC put restrictions on Webberley while they investigated her work.

It could be true both that patients call her work life-saving and that it has risks. Patients don’t always know what they need, which is why doctoring is a technical profession with several years of training. Patients could think her work is good for them and be wrong.

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