I would like to truly and honestly thank the huge numbers of people who have come back with messages of solidarity and support following the difficulties I have had with registering with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).
So many people have been asking how they can help and who they can write to, so I thought I would provide some guidance.
But before I do, I thought it would help to provide some context. All doctors need to be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in order to be able to treat patients in the UK. However, if you run a private hospital, clinic or agency in Wales, then you must be also registered with the HIW. HIW is the Welsh version of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which regulates healthcare providers in England.
Our first application as a clinic was submitted in September 2016, with an updated application submitted in February 2017. The application was refused because HIW did not feel that we fitted the criteria for a clinic. We are clearly not a hospital, which either means we are an agency or simply practicing as GMC registered doctors. This is very similar to other doctors who see patients at private hospitals, which are themselves HIW registered. HIW could not confirm whether they felt we were an agency or not and refused my requests to meet with them to discuss. They then issued court proceedings to accuse me of running a medical agency. The district judge at Merthyr Tydfil magistrates court then found me guilty of running Online GP Services Ltd as a medical agency.
Prior to 9th May 2017, I was treating patients who accessed me through my website, GenderGP, and from 9th May 2017 onwards, my husband, Dr Mike Webberley, has been treating all of the patients. The reason for this is that some doctors working in NHS GICs have put in a number of complaints about my involvement with transgender patients and these are being looked at by the GMC. Dr Mike Webberley has what is called ‘practicing privileges’ at two private consulting rooms in Wales, both of which are HIW registered, and this is where he currently sees GenderGP patients.
In England, under the NHS Constitution, patients ‘have the right to access certain services commissioned by NHS bodies within maximum waiting times, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer a range of suitable alternative providers if this is not possible’. The NHS Constitution sets out that patients should wait no longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment. https://www.england.nhs.uk/rtt/
It’s time to speak out
Many people have come to us for treatment because they have not been able to get the help they need within a realistic timeframe on the NHS. If this affects you, or a loved one, and you would like to make your thoughts known about your experiences, then the key contacts are below. It is always helpful to be specific about what you are saying eg:
- Why you needed to access private healthcare rather than use NHS services.
- Your experiences of any healthcare service or doctor – whether that is an NHS Gender clinic or consultant, or your GP, or myself or Dr Mike Webberley.
- What it would mean to you if private options were no longer available to you.
- Your suggestions about how healthcare for trans people could be improved.
I am passionate about providing safe and honest healthcare for all trans people, and to reducing the harm and pain suffered by those who are waiting for treatment on the NHS. Never has there been a time more appropriate than to hear from the voices of those who are affected by decisions made at higher levels.
General Medical Council – FPDComplaintsCorresp@gmc-uk.org
Healthcare Inspectorate Wales – firstname.lastname@example.org
Care Quality Commission – email@example.com
Chief Medical Officer for Wales – firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Medical Officer for England – @CMO_England
Contact your MP – https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates Court – email@example.com
And as always, we welcome any feedback here
Best wishes, Dr Helen Webberley @MyWebDoctorUK