A DOCTOR was today fined £12,000 for running an illegal transgender clinic – where she gave sex-change hormones to children as young as 12.

Dr Helen Webberley, 49, ran a private transgender clinic from her home to treat children wanting to swap sexes.

Webberley, of Abergavenny, offered advice online under the name Gender GP and charged between £75 and £150 an hour to patients looking to have gender reassignment.

A court heard Webberley gave hormones to children as young as 12 after the youngsters were denied treatment on the NHS.

Last year, she was refused a license to operate her gender clinic by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW), a medical services watchdog.

But her firm operated without a license between March 2017 and February 2018.

The court heard how the cross-sex hormone treatment causes permanent body changes and compromises fertility.

On her firm's website, Webberley said: "You are never too young or never too old to get help and support.

"Whether you just need some advice about your thoughts and feelings, would like some safe and affordable care to continue your transition, or whether you are ready to start the whole process, then please contact me for advice."

She was convicted of illegally providing healthcare services.

Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court heard Webberley insisted she was innocent and said shutting her service risked patients coming to harm.

But District Judge Neil Thomas ruled Webberley and her company broke the Care Standards Act.

Russell Davies, defending, said Webberley set up the company in 2014 after working as a GP, initially launching MyWebDoc.com.

Following a “snowballing” of interest on the transgender treatment, she decided to open a new website, GenderGP.com.

The site offered specialist advice to transgender patients, a topic Webberley had recently become interested in.

Mr Davies said: “Webberley didn’t set up the company for financial gain or for profit at all.

"Here was a doctor who was providing care, information and advice that was very much needed. But her business was not registered.

"It was never anticipated by Webberley that the registration of the company would be in any way controversial.

"She didn’t appreciate that the company needed registration until it was pointed out to her.

"Webberley always followed the international guidelines for transgender care, but what she didn’t do was to state how many patients there were, how old they were and what treatment was included.

"It is regrettable that she didn’t provide that information. She didn’t provide it due to confidentiality and that was misplaced.

"She was a very caring practitioner who never developed the company for financial gain. She was only motivated by the care of her patients."

Mr Davies said Webberley continued to run the company despite being ordered to cease her practice because she didn't want to risk stopping patients' treatments.

He said: "Due to the number of patients under her care she was “concerned that the cessation of the website would be harmful.

"The continuation was never because of financial greed."

Webberley was ordered to pay a £12,000 fine as well as a £2,000 fine issued to her GenderGP business.

She was also told to pay £11,307 costs.

Judge 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."

HIW Chief Executive Dr Kate Chamberlain welcomed the guilty verdict.

She said: "Unregistered healthcare services pose a risk to patient safety as they are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as registered services."

After the hearing Dr Webberley said she was "stunned" at the court's decision.

In a statement, she said: ""I was stunned at the outcome of the hearing held in August which reached its conclusion today.

"I began providing private healthcare to the trans and non binary community because there was a desperate need and there was no such NHS provision within Wales.

"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.

"I never set out to break the law. I had hoped to be able to work with the HIW to register my services while continuing to provide the care that was so desperately needed, but sadly this was not an option.

"The needs of this minority group of people must be recognised. We as a country can do better. The NHS waiting time of up to four years for a first appointment is unconstitutional. Better interim care options must be provided and I urge regulators to take a more collaborative approach.

"I am taking this fight to Parliament. I have written a letter calling for a better deal for trans and non binary people and I urge gender variant people and their allies to lend their support. Visit www.gendergp.co.uk for more information."