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Trust ‘missed opportunities’ to prevent sex offender working as locum

Published on: 23 Feb 2023

A trust has admitted it ‘missed opportunities’ to identify that a locum doctor – who was arrested on hospital premises for two sexual offences — had already been cautioned for indecent exposure.

Salman Siddiqi admitted two offences – attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and attempting to arrange or facilitate a meeting with a child for sexual offences – last month. He has yet to be sentenced.

East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, where he was working as a locum paediatric registrar at the time of the January offences, has now said there had been “missed opportunities” to identify his previous caution.

HSJ understands that the trust did not know about the caution – which was issued in June 2019 after an incident in a London park – until March 2021, two months after Dr Siddiqi started working locum shifts at its hospitals, and when it first saw his Disclosure and Barring Service report.

Chief medical officer Rebecca Martin told HSJ the trust had taken steps to ensure that these missed opportunities could not happen again. She said in a statement: “This includes standardising DBS checks for temporary workers booked through an agency and escalating all DBS and General Medical Council checks that feature conditions, cautions or warnings.”

Chief executive Tracey Fletcher told a recent board meeting that a review into his employment at the trust did not suggest it had made omissions or failures which could have predicted or prevented the offences, but said: “There is undoubtedly further learning and actions recommended around the employment of temporary workers.”

One recommendation was a review of all current placements which had not been managed directly by the trust’s temporary workforce team, to ensure all checks had been made. 

Dr Siddiqi, 44, of Hornchurch, East London, had worked for the trust through an agency between January 2021 and January this year to cover a total of 111 shifts at the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Hospital in Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

He was arrested after a chase through the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Hospital. He had been in contact with what he thought was a 14-year-old boy who was coming to meet him for sex at his lodgings in the hospital grounds. However, the “boy” was an adult member of the public, describing himself as a “paedophile hunter”, who had been talking to Dr Siddiqi through social media in a sting operation.

Dr Siddiqi was suspended from the medical register for a month last July after a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing. The tribunal was told that the indecent exposure incident was a “one off” by his counsel, but the GMC lawyer said he had been “willing to mislead the GMC both by concealment and by misrepresenting the offence”.

HSJ understands the trust sought additional information from the agency involved and from his previous employers when his caution came to light in March 2021. But it had continued to employ him both before and after the period of suspension, and there had been no concerns over his clinical work.