Doctor struck off after working hundreds of hospital shifts he was unqualified for

A doctor who worked more than 230 shifts he was unqualified for at King George Hospital in Ilford has been struck off.

Despite only being qualified for the most junior doctor jobs, Dr Syed Afaq Ahmed Hashmi accepted locum shifts for more senior work between April 2017 and 2018, “driven by the need to earn money”.

During this time, Dr Ahmed Hashmi assisted in surgical theatres and arranged scans without the proper supervision for his qualification, potentially putting his patients at risk of harm.

Following a ten-day hearing last month, which Dr Ahmed Hashmi did not attend, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service decided to permanently remove him from the medical register.

Explaining their decision, the tribunal wrote: “Dr Ahmed Hashmi… demonstrated a lack of integrity, put patients at risk of harm and could have brought the medical profession into disrepute.

“He seems to be under the misapprehension that because a trust contacts him directly to employ him, that in some manner absolves him of his responsibility as a professional to work within the confines of his registration.

“He has shown no remorse or insight upon which the tribunal could properly conclude that this conduct will not be repeated.”

Dr Hashmi worked in general surgery and urology, completing locum shifts through an agency called DRC Group, which raised concerns with the General Medical Council in January 2018.

In addition to working shifts at King George Hospital, he also worked shifts he was underqualified for at hospitals in Sussex and Essex.

Despite not attending the hearing, Dr Ahmed Hashmi sent three emails to the tribunal explaining his conduct, which they noted “demonstrate a complete lack of insight” into his wrongdoing.

The tribunal’s report reads: “The primary focus of the (emails) was to exonerate himself…. to cast blame towards the locum agencies and hospital trusts for employing him and to assert the quality of his skills as a doctor.”

Dr Hashmi also expressed that he struggled to find vacancies at the level he was qualified for and needed money to support his family.

Nonetheless, the tribunal found that his misconduct was so serious that he had to be struck off “to promote and maintain public confidence in the medical profession”.

In February, the trust which runs King George Hospital noted that over-reliance on locum shifts due to short-staffing was contributing to its strained finances.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust spends £80 million a year on temporary staff, of which £20 million is at “premium” rates.

It has been unable to reduce this figure “despite good recruitment” because it is losing staff faster than it can hire them.

BHRUT spent £78.7 million this financial year and expects a budget gap of £10 million by December.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter