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Day ten of Dr Helen Webberley’s hearing began with Dr Richard Harker, witness for the GMC. Also present were Mr Simon Jackson QC, counsel for the GMC, and Mr Ian Stern QC, counsel for Dr Webberley.

Mr Jackson began by asking Dr Harker about his experience and understanding of online prescribing. Dr Harker advised that it constitutes a large part of his work as a GP. Mr Jackson asked him to describe what he perceived as the failings in Dr Webberley’s online prescribing practice, and Dr Harker said that he felt that the records did not properly show the reason for a dosage increase and that a patient who was requesting a prescription for an STD was not properly referred to a GUM clinic. The records that Dr Harker had looked at were the admin records from Dr Webberley’s previous employer, Dr Matt Ltd. These records had been handed over to the CQC during an inspection that the hearing heard last week was carried out with little notice and when only an admin person was on site.

 

 

Ian Stern then cross-examined Dr Harker. He pointed out that the online prescribing company in question – Dr Matt Ltd – had only provided the CQC with the admin records, not the clinical records. As Dr Webberley no longer worked for the company by that point she was unable to access the clinical records herself. He asked Dr Harker whether, without access to the full records, it would be possible to know whether Dr Webberley had properly reviewed the dosage increase or not. Dr Harker conceded that he could not say for sure.

Mr Stern pointed out that the GMC hadn’t requested the records until May 28th 2021 – four years after the GMC opened their investigation and less than a month before the start of the hearing. By that point DMC (the company who owned Dr Matt Ltd) had closed Dr Matt Ltd and the records had been destroyed. Had the GMC enquired sooner the full records might have been available, but the long delay meant that when Dr Matt Ltd closed down the company that was handling the patient records destroyed the records within months of finishing their contract. They stated they had handed the records over to DMC but DMC said they had repeatedly searched and found none of the records from Dr Matt Ltd.

 

 

Mr Stern asked whether Dr Harker thought it was fair to accuse Dr Webberley on the basis of incomplete records that were the admin records and not the clinicians records. Dr Harker said that he stood by the statement he gave based on the information he had at the time, but that he would comment further if new information became available.

Mr Johnson asked Dr Harker if there was anything in the evidence that suggested the patient had requested the increased dosage. Dr Harker was cautious, saying that he hadn’t seen anything, but as he was now aware that he had not seen the full patient records that he could not comment further.

 

 

Day ten was another difficult day for the GMC as it emerged that they had not sought vital evidence until a month before the hearing and, being unable to procure the clinical records,the GMC’s witness had therefore judged Dr Webberley’s proficiency and care based on incomplete records.

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Photo by George Becker from Pexels