By MICHAEL HITCH and RHIANNON SOLIMAN
A leading Sydney endocrinologist has responded to the transgender community following his sudden retirement earlier in June, claiming “unnecessary restrictions” were placed on him by the Medical Council of NSW.
Dr Jonathan Hayes, who has provided hormone treatment to trans patients for over thirty years, responded to concerns from his former patients still requiring healthcare in a letter to Trans Health Australia.
“As I am no longer registered as a medical practitioner it would be remiss of me (and illegal) to be providing medical advice,” he said.
“I can however provide a health summary to my patients which I am endeavouring to do.”
Dr Hayes continued, mentioning the difficulty of providing these summaries without payment, a condition required of him by the NSW Medical Council.
“This is a service I am providing without receiving payment, whilst at the same time employing two full time staff and incurring significant overheads,” he said.
“Obviously, due to financial constraints, this is not a service that I can continue to provide indefinitely. I would also put it to you that it is not normal to continue working (harder than ever) for free following retirement.”
Hayes was based at St Leonards in Sydney’s North and provided healthcare for thousands of trans people over his career through his tailored treatments and his niche use of hormone implants, which is a service rarely offered by other endocrinologists.
His decision to retire alarmed existing and potential patients who see him periodically and rely on his hormonal implants. Implants allow a steady release of hormones directly into the bloodstream, as opposed to hormone pills which can cause side effects by passing through the liver, and injectable hormones.
Hayes, who notified the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority on June 4 of his decision to cease practising, said in a June 15 letter to Trans Health Australia that he was in an “ongoing dispute” with the Council, which had allegedly “expressed disapproval regarding the increasing focus of [his] practice on transgender medicine.”
“The Medical Council have placed conditions of my ongoing practice which I consider unreasonable,” he said.
“I have therefore decided to cease practicing, effective immediately.
“It saddens me to be finishing up after more than thirty years practicing medicine. I believe in the work that I do and I am sure that I make a difference to my patients. Unfortunately, the circumstances are out of my control.”
The NSW Medical Council denied Hayes’ allegation, which was shared on social media, saying that the Council was not in dispute with Hayes and denied claims that they placed conditions on his medical registration.
“The Council has not placed conditions on Dr Jon Hayes’ medical registration. The Council understands that Dr Hayes made a personal decision to cease practising and informed his patients of his decision earlier this week,” the statement read.
“The Council has never expressed disapproval or a view of a recognised medical sub-speciality, including transgender medicine.
“The Council is concerned that Dr Hayes take steps to ensure immediate continuity of care for his former patients, in accordance with the Medical Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct.”
Since then, Hayes said he must now complete the “herculean” task of ensuring immediate continuity of care, despite his decision being made as a consequence of the NSW Medical Council’s actions.
“Transgender medicine is a neglected area of health care. I am therefore being charged with the task of finding alternative services for my patients when none exist,” he said.
While the lead-up to the alleged dispute remains unclear, trans community members are already calling for better, more accessible hormone treatment alternatives.
Founder of Trans Health Australia, Melody Moore, said that while the community will be affected, the task for finding other alternatives was always on the horizon.
“Long-term, the other providers are going to pick up from where he’s left off. I think that it’s up to us to do more and find more alternatives, we can’t be too co-dependent on one provider,” she said.
“He’s got a mammoth task in front of him already, so people need to be proactive in getting onto him about their records.
“His retirement was going to happen at some point. It caught everybody off guard but then again, what happens if a medical practitioner suddenly passes? Or gets sick and has to retire? People have got to pick up the pieces and find other alternatives, that’s just the situation we’re in here – it’s very unfortunate.”
Jess, a former patient of Hayes’ said that his commitment to helping his patients without remuneration was a testament to his skills as a Doctor.
“I think it sucks that he has to stop. But the fact that he’s doing this work, if nothing else, this proves how much he gives a shit about us,” she said.
If you are a former patient of Dr Jon Hayes and have previously been prescribed Oestradiol Implants, such implants are available from Stenlake Compounding Chemist which can be inserted by your GP or endocrinologist.