It is perhaps inevitable, following the negative attention that my business partner, colleague and wife, Dr Helen Webberley, has received since focussing on her work with transgender patients, that I too should be subject to investigation by the GMC.
Yesterday (15.11.18), I was called before a medical tribunal and a minor restriction was placed on my ability to practice. The tribunal has ordered that, while my valuable work with transgender patients can continue, all patients receiving Testosterone therapy must come and see me in my clinic on a personal basis, rather than by video consultation.
Transgender care and working with hormonal manipulation is a relatively new and emerging field of medicine and while other developed countries seem far quicker to adopt modern ways of thinking, the UK seems to be playing catch up. The Women and Equalities report on transgender equality, published in January 2016, highlighted the fact that transgender patients are being ‘let down’ by the NHS, a view that is backed up by our patients daily.
This growing patient group is no less deserving of timely, caring, professional support than any other group of individuals. The fact that there is a high incidence of self harm and suicide amongst this group, simply makes their needs all the more pressing. And yet the provision of support is so dire that patients can be left waiting up to four years for a first appointment.
The NHS is responding. It has acknowledged that waiting times are excessive. It has encouraged GPs to support patients with more straightforward needs themselves and refer more complex cases to the relevant Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) but still GPs are reluctant to help. Given the response that those doctors looking to specialise in gender care have received, including myself and Dr Helen Webberley as well as Dr Russel Reid and Dr Richard Curtis before us, it’s easy to see why.
I am a Consultant Physician of 23 years standing and with 34 years of service to the NHS. I act within my professional competency at all times. A full breakdown of my career highlights can be seen here. I am more than adequately qualified in terms of credentials, years of practise and experience to medically manage hormonal manipulation and the needs of transgender patients.
I believe, in-line with global best practice, as adopted in the US and Australia, that transgender care to patients of all ages should be provided on a case by case basis in a compassionate way.
Gender variant patients must be given adequate access to appropriate healthcare. Where they cannot or choose not to wait, private options must be allowed. Currently, the only service providing such timely support to patients of all ages is GenderGP.co.uk, without this service patients seemingly have no choice but to face the excruciatingly long waits offered by the NHS.
Dr Mike Webberley