The call for checks follows an investigation into Zholia Alemi, whose medical degree from the University of Auckland in New Zealand was not properly verified when she was appointed an NHS psychSome 3,000 foreign doctors in the UK are being urgently checked after a woman practised psychiatry for 22 years without any qualifications. Zholia Alemi falsely claimed to have a medical degree from a New Zealand university when she registered in the UK as a psychiatrist in the 1995.
But she had actually dropped out of medical school in her first year. The General Medical Council (GMC) – the doctors’ watchdog – has apologised for its inadequate checks in the 1990s.
The GMC – which decides whether a doctor is qualified to practise in the UK – said it was sorry for any risk arising to patients as a result and that it was confident its current processes are far stronger. Alemi was jailed for fraud in October after she faked a dementia patient’s will in an attempt to inherit her £1.3m estate.
Now, following her case, an investigation has been triggered. The licences of potentially thousands of doctors are being looked at.
Prospects CEO, Jayne Rowley, said:
Zholia was recruited in the 1990s before the robust processes of the NHS and General Medical Council (GMC) were introduced. Under regulations covering the Commonwealth at that time, she did not have to take an exam in the UK to join the GMC register. Her fake medical qualification was only discovered when she was convicted of fraud and theft after taking advantage of a vulnerable patient. As the checks on over 3,000 medical doctors working in the UK commence, let’s hope this wicked and abhorrent abuse of trust is an isolated case.
“This should act as a wake-up call to anyone recruiting graduates, particularly those in positions of power. There are some common traits to fake certificates such as dated terminology, but proper checks with the awarding bodies are essential. This is the only way to ensure the people we recruit are telling the truth about their credentials.