Fake psychiatrist prompts United Kingdom investigation of 3,000 foreign doctors

Elias Hubbard
November 20, 2018

The 56-year-old, who moved to the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, claimed to have a degree from the University of Auckland.

She also attempted to steal from patients and is now serving five years in jail for forging a grieving widow's will as part of a plot to inherit the pensioner's £1.3 million estate.

The convicted fraudster had failed the first year of medical school in New Zealand in 1992, but subsequently managed to register as a doctor with the General Medical Council (GMC) with a forged degree certificate, forged primary medical qualification and a fake letter of recommendation from her most recent job in Pakistan, under a visa scheme that has since been discontinued.

She denied charges of fraud and theft but was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison following a trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

She was able to register with the General Medical Council after moving to the United Kingdom in 1992, by presenting forged documents including a certificate proving she was awarded a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery, as well as a letter confirming she had graduated and a recommendation from a recent employer.

The medical tribunal service suspended her in June 2017.

After her sentencing an officer from Cumbria Police described her crimes as "abhorrent".

The GMC - which decides whether a doctor is qualified to practise in the United Kingdom - said it was sorry for "any risk arising to patients as a result" and that it was confident its current processes are "far stronger".

She worked as a doctor up until June of past year.

The review into foreign doctors' right to work in the United Kingdom was triggered by an investigation from Cumbrian newspaper the News & Star.

The confirmation comes as authorities in the United Kingdom move to carry out urgent checks on the credentials of up to 3000 foreign doctors working in Britain.

The GMC said Alemi was allowed to join the UK's medical register under a section of the Medical Act which has not been in force since 2003.

It allowed graduates of medical schools in certain Commonwealth countries, including New Zealand, to obtain registration on the basis of their qualification, without having to sit and pass the standard two-part assessment of their medical knowledge and skills - the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board exam (PLAB).

These documents were not subject to the rigorous checks that exist today, the GMC has now admitted.

Charlie Massey, the GMC's chief executive, called it a "serious" issue and said the police and other agencies including NHS England have been informed.

What should concerned patients do?

The GMC said it was incredibly rare case but started a review after the News and Star made them aware of the details of Alemi's faked qualifications.

It urges anyone who was treated by her to contact the GP surgery, hospital or clinic where they received treatment.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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