By Michele Paduano BBC News - 09.09.2023 - [Jawad Ahmad] - [UK]
A surgeon who left the country following two alleged sexual assaults, one involving a girl aged under 16, is being sought by police.
Dr Jawad Ahmad was subject to a complaint made by a teenager saying she was attacked at a Staffordshire wildlife park in 2020. A second complainant, a junior doctor, claims she was assaulted at night whilst on shift at the Royal Stoke Hospital the same year.
The urology registrar was taken into custody after allegedly approaching the girl at Monkey Forest, Trentham, in Stoke-on-Trent. She told police he had hugged and kissed her before further assaulting her.
The details came to light in documents associated with an employment tribunal which concluded that University Hospitals North Midlands (UHNM) unlawfully sexually discriminated against the second complainant. When the junior doctor alerted her supervisor to the assault, correct procedures were not followed. In addition, her highly confidential witness statement was sent to three people in a serious data breach.
The NHS trust's chief executive, Tracy Bullock, apologised for the hospital's failings in its investigation procedures in relation to the complaint. The junior doctor said Dr Ahmad, who was not on duty at the time, had asked her to accompany him to an office on business where he started "hugging her, massaging her back, touching her sides and face and kissing her face and neck," the tribunal papers stated. "When the claimant tried to leave the office, the doctor physically prevented her from doing so."
Faith in NHS 'eroded'
The tribunal, which ended on 1 August 2022, adjudged as a matter of fact that the attack had taken place. It also found that UHNM did not set clear boundaries and inappropriate behaviour had been allowed to continue which had violated the woman's dignity.
After nine years training as a doctor, the woman has left medicine. "My mental health became so bad as a result of the assault that I struggled to be in the hospital. I struggle to go outside," she said. "I work from home now. I don't think that I could ever go back because my faith in the NHS has been just completely eroded." Even though the junior doctor contacted the hospital about her complaint on 16 June 2020, Dr Ahmad was offered a new one-year contract on 22 June. Unknown to the junior doctor, he had already been arrested by police for an earlier allegation of assault.
The trust did then exclude him from seeing patients, but not fully from the workplace, and so failed to protect the member of staff, the tribunal concluded. Worried that he could attack her again, the victim went to her GP who signed her off working nights. 'Institutional dismissiveness'
The tribunal stated that the hospital had a "cavalier disregard" for her concerns and a "reckless lack of thought".
Dr Ahmad was only fully excluded from the hospital on 21 July that year.
"If you have got an organisation where you have got somebody who's been arrested for sexual assault of a child under 16 and a member of staff who has reported a serious sexual assault and your first thought is not to exclude him from the premises, that's institutional dismissiveness of sexual assault," said the victim.
Against the junior doctor's express wishes, a doctor appointed to investigate the complaint, Ingi Elsayed, contacted senior doctors about "inappropriate relationships" in a way which might be seen as "prying into the claimant's private life", the tribunal found.
This went "beyond the scope of the investigation" and tested her "credibility and character", it added. The tribunal concluded that the unintended consequences of these inquiries amounted to harassment. No similar enquiries were made about Dr Ahmad.
The tribunal concluded that Dr Elsayed then "misled" associate medical director, Dr Nicholas Coleman, who, the tribunal said did not seek to remedy the flawed investigation when it came to light. Interim restrictions
Staffordshire Police said its inquiries were continuing. "We are investigating reports of a sexual assault in Stoke-on-Trent in June 2020. However, we believe the suspect has left the country and are working with partners to locate him," said the force.
Interim restrictions have been placed on Ahmad working as a doctor by an independent medical tribunal. These include not carrying out any examinations or procedures on a female under 18 unless in a life-threatening emergency and he should not carry out consultations on any woman without a chaperone present.
University Hospital North Midlands declined to answer specific questions but said: "Sexual violence and abuse will not be tolerated. "We encourage anyone who has been a victim to come forward and report that, in the knowledge that the report will be taken seriously. "That includes, where necessary, taking action against the perpetrator, including involving the police."
Attempts to contact Dr Jawad Ahmad through the General Medical Council have proved unsuccessful. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Dignity4Patients, whose helpline is open Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm.