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Trainee doctor at Northern Ireland Hospital struck off for incompetence in job

Dr Azam trained in China, obtaining his medical degree from Weifang Medical University in Shandong province in 2014 (stock photo)
Dr Azam trained in China, obtaining his medical degree from Weifang Medical University in Shandong province in 2014 (stock photo)

By Lisa Smyth

A trainee doctor who couldn't perform basic lifesaving techniques while working at Antrim Area Hospital has been struck off.

Haseeb Azam was also unable to properly carry out simple examinations of patients, request diagnostic tests or prescribe drugs accurately and safely.

A fitness to practise panel heard that Dr Azam scored 36.67% in a knowledge test - significantly below the set mark of 67.06% and one of the lowest scores ever seen by his team leader and medical assessor.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing deemed that Dr Azam's fitness to practise was impaired and ordered that he be removed from the General Medical Council's register.

It came after the panel was told that, despite taking part in education activities to improve his knowledge, he failed the prescribing safety assessment and did not demonstrate competence at basic life support.

Dr Azam trained in China, obtaining his medical degree from Weifang Medical University in Shandong province in 2014.

He obtained full registration with the GMC after spending a further year in China, where he undertook a clinical attachment.

He was employed as a foundation year one locum at Antrim from December 2016.

However, the tribunal was told that "shortly after he started concerns were raised by his supervising consultant regarding his knowledge of common surgical emergencies and also relating to aspects of general patient care and safe prescribing".

Following initial concerns regarding his capability, Dr Azam's duties were restricted to those of a final year medical student and he was prohibited from prescribing drugs or ordering certain investigations.

He was also directly supervised and not permitted to undertake on-call duties.

He continued to work at the hospital until August 2017 but has not worked as a doctor since.

In his submission to the MPTS panel, Dr Azam said he "recognises the areas of deficiencies in his performance" and "stated that he was very nervous before undertaking the performance assessment".

He said this may have "contributed to his poor performance" and added that he had never received complaints from patients or their families and had not put any patients at risk.

He also asked to be given additional time to continue training under supervision in the hope he would be able to meet required standards.

However, the MPTS panel heard that Dr Azam had failed the prescribing exam on at least two occasions and his medical assessor felt he "would probably not pass" the medical qualifying exam.

The panel noted that Dr Azam's medical assessor had almost 20 years' experience, "therefore the tribunal placed significant weight on his opinion".

The tribunal panel continued: "Additionally, Dr C, Dr Azam's educational supervisor, stated that there were erratic gaps in Dr Azam's knowledge."

GMC counsel Georgina Goring told the panel there were "various aggravating factors in the case, including Dr Azam's wide ranging areas of unacceptable performance levels, his record keeping skills were a cause for concern and there was little or no evidence of remediation".

She also told the tribunal that Dr Azam had said he had been doing 20 hours of self-study a week but little evidence of this had been put before the tribunal.

Explaining its decision, the panel said the various failings in Dr Azam's professional ability, including being unable to diagnose, "places patients in jeopardy". It said the deficiencies had the potential to bring into disrepute the medical profession and were "so serious as to be fundamentally incompatible with his continued registration".

It continued: "The tribunal has determined that erasure from the medical register is the appropriate and proportionate outcome.

"It is the only sanction that will fulfil the overarching objective of protection of the public, maintaining public confidence in the profession and promoting and maintaining proper professional standards and conduct for members of that profession."

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