Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust: Fake doctor medicated 164 patients

Zholia AlemiImage copyright Cumbria Police
Image caption Zholia Alemi faked her medical degree when she came to the UK in the 1990s

A bogus psychiatrist prescribed medication to 164 patients at one mental health trust, the BBC has found.

Zholia Alemi, jailed in 2018 for fraud, worked around the UK and for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), despite being unqualified.

Norfolk and Suffolk mental health campaigners said it was “shocking” and called for a full external audit.

NSFT said it carried out checks before appointing Alemi and had terminated her contract as a result of concerns.

‘Inadequate checks’

New Zealander Alemi, who worked in the NHS for 22 years despite having no qualifications, was jailed last October for defrauding a patient in Workington, Cumbria.

While with a locum agency in 2014-15, she worked with patients of NSFT.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request from the BBC, NSFT said following Alemi’s conviction it wrote to patients who had been treated by her and received two responses.

The General Medical Council (GMC) – the doctors’ watchdog – has apologised for its “inadequate” checks in the 1990s.

Image caption Darren King, 31, from Suffolk, drowned in his bath after suffering a seizure last year

The parents of one patient, Darren King, from Lowestoft, have said he could still be alive had Alemi done her job properly.

Mr King drowned in his bath after having a seizure in 2017. His family said Alemi refused to carry out their request for a capacity assessment, although they wanted the bath to be removed.

A Campaign to Save Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Services (CSMHS) spokesman said: “It is shocking that a fake doctor could prescribe medication to 164 patients.

“Now is the time for a full external audit of the undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications of all the doctors working at NSFT to restore patient and carer confidence.”

NSFT said: “All the appropriate checks had been undertaken by the GMC. We checked that the GMC and the agency had run the necessary checks.

“We have been assured by the GMC that their checks are more robust than they were in the 1990s.”

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