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Last Modified: 25 May 2007
Source: PA News

Transsexual patients of a consultant psychiatrist found guilty of serious professional misconduct have hailed a decision by the industry watchdog not to strike him off as "life-saving".

Dr Russell Reid, a leading expert on gender identity disorder, was found by a General Medical Council Fitness to Practise panel to have rushed patients into hormone treatment and sex change operations.

But on Friday the panel said that despite his "unacceptable" conduct, he was an experienced and otherwise well-respected doctor whose removal from the controversial world of transgender medicine would not be in the public interest. Instead, strict conditions were placed on his work.

Speaking outside the hearing in London, his supporters - many of whom call him Uncle Russell - said his work helped thousands of transsexuals change to their true sex who otherwise would have been suicidal.

One transsexual woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "We can't afford to lose Dr Reid. If he had been stopped from practising, people would have died."

Charles Kane, a 47-year-old transsexual man who led the initial complaint about Dr Reid but did not eventually participate in the GMC hearing, agreed he was a "kind-hearted father figure" who had learned his lesson. He said: "I am happy with the verdict because with these conditions he cannot really treat anybody else the way he treated me."

The case, which has divided transsexual experts and support groups, was brought after complaints from four psychiatrists, two of whom worked with Dr Reid at the Charing Cross Hospital gender identity clinic, and one patient.

Dr Reid, 63, of west London, worked at the clinic from 1982 to 1990 and in 1990 established a private practice in Earls Court, specialising in transsexualism. But the GMC panel found that not only did he prescribe hormone treatment and refer for sex-change surgery too soon, he did not adequately consult or keep his patients' GPs informed.

GMC panel chairman John Shaw told Dr Reid: "You were not obliged to follow the standards of care rigidly but you should have exercised greater caution and have had well-based and documented reasons for departing from them."

But he added that instead of striking him off, he would set strict conditions for his continuing to work, including that he be supervised, keep a detailed log, and could not prescribe hormones on the first consultation with patients without a series of checks. Dr Reid officially retired from his clinics several years ago but said he hoped to continue his work on a flexible basis.

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