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Day Eight of Dr Helen Webberley’s MPT hearing began with Liam Stratton, an Inspector for the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Ian Stern QC cross-examined Mr Stratton regarding an inspection he had led into Dr Matt Ltd, an online healthcare provider for whom Dr Webberley was employed as the registered manager.

Stratton’s testimony was in relation to the allegations about the safeguarding policies. It was alleged that systems were not in place for audits and reviews of patient records. A member of the tribunal questioned Mr Stratton further, and it was unclear who exactly he was referring to when he said “staff” had not been aware of the safeguarding policies. He described a ‘female admin’ who appeared to be unaware of the policies, and said that members of his team had spoken to other members of staff. The tribunal asked Mr Stratton how the safeguarding issue was drawn to his attention; he said he could not remember. When Mr Stratton was asked to provide the relevant records to clarify his evidence he said he could not access them, but would request physical copies.

 

 

Mr Stratton was followed by Mr Rhys Jones, the Head of Regulation and Investigation at the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales. Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) were involved with an ongoing issue around whether Dr Webberley needed to register her service, and how she ought to go about it. Mr Stern began by asking whether Mr Jones was aware that Dr Webberley had been notified by the CQC that she did not have to register her service with them, to which Mr Jones responded that he was not aware.

Mr Stern described how Dr Webberley appealed to the HIW to allow her to continue working while she was arranging registration of the company, as she had a great number of patients relying on her care and did not want to abruptly withdraw it. Mr Jones agreed that Dr Webberley had conveyed to him that this was her position.

Mr Jones said that Dr Webberley had been told that if she continued providing services while unregistered it would be an offence, Mr Stern reiterated that if Dr Webberley had ceased treatment it would mean abandoning vulnerable patients in need of those services. Mr Jones said that the issue of the patient’s vulnerability was ‘irrelevant’.

 

 

Dr Webberley’s counsel, Ian Stern indicated that Dr Webberley had been upfront with HIW from the beginning about her desire to register, her willingness to cooperate and her reluctance to abandon her patients. Mr Stern stated that Dr Webberley had believed that she could continue treating vulnerable patients while awaiting registration from HIW.

Mr Stern addressed the accusation that Dr Webberley had provided misleading information to the HIW. Ian Stern said that Dr Webberley had been perfectly up front with the HIW, which Dr Jones again claimed was irrelevant. The Chair interceded to say that it was, in fact, relevant, and that the counsel believes it is relevant, and that Dr Jones should answer the questions.

 

 

Over the rest of the questioning the Chair said he could not find any suggestion that HIW had responded properly to Dr Webberley’s request that she be allowed to continue supporting her existing patients. The Chair pointed out that although Dr Jones had complained of a lack of clarity from Dr Webberley, she had been clear that she was continuing to treat her patients and that it appeared to be HIW who had not been clear with her.

On day nine of the hearing Dr Taylor, Deputy Medical Director for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board spoke about Dr Webberley’s suspension from th NHS Performer’s List. The allegation has been made that Dr Webberley “frustrated the Health Boards attempts to carry out a review without good reason to” and that she “failed to inform the Health Board about GMC investigations”

 

 

The tribunal heard how the Health board appointed two medical professionals to investigate Dr Webberley and how these people were untrained for this particular task. Dr Taylor assured the tribunal that the Health Board had provided them with questions to ask and that they were experienced enough professionals for the task. Ian Stern QC asked Dr Taylor why, given the investigators “great experience and knowledge”, they felt it was appropriate to suggest bringing a halt to the investigation into Dr Webberley? Dr Taylor just admitted that the investigators had indeed written a letter to that effect.

The investigators had also asked that more clarity be provided to them regarding the terms of reference for the investigation. Dr Webberley had also repeatedly asked the Health Board to provide her with the terms of reference. When asked had they given this to her, Dr Taylor replied that “in his opinion” Dr Webberley “knew precisely why she was being investigated”.

Day eight and nine of the hearing saw several examples of how Dr Webberley wasn’t accorded full transparency from regulatory bodies. As the Chair stated, HIW had not been clear with Dr Webberley regarding whether she could continue to practice while attempting to register with them. The Health Board did not furnish Dr Webberley with sufficient notice to mount her defence, nor did they supply her with the terms of reference into the investigation against her.

 

 

Regarding the allegation that Dr Webberley failed to inform the Health Board about GMC investigations, the hearing heard that Dr Webberley’s solicitor had made reference to these investigations in their correspondence with the Health Board, and also that the Health Board had been informed of the investigation by the GMC, which Dr Webberley had been informed of.

Dr Taylor repeatedly admitted that the approach used with Dr Webberley was “bespoke”, it appears that ‘bespoke’ in this case meant not even advising her of the issues she was being investigated for.