The backgrounds of 3,000 foreign doctors are being urgently checked after a con woman with no qualifications was allowed to work as an NHS psychiatrist for 22 years.
Zholia Alemi,who is 56 years old, claimed to have a degree from the University of Auckland in New Zealand when she came to work in the UK in 1992.
But she had actually dropped out of medical school in her first year.
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.
The act meant medical school graduates from certain Commonwealth countries – like New Zealand, were allowed to join the register on the basis of the qualification they obtained at home.
They did not have to sit and pass the standard two-part medical test that foreign doctors normally have to pass before they can work in the UK – the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board exam (PLAB).
She has worked for more than two decades from 1995, treating thousands of mental health patients in the NHS, apparently prescribing medicine and making assessments.
The deception by Alemi, thought to be of Iranian extraction, was only discovered after she was convicted for faking a dementia patient’s will in an attempt to inherit her £1.3 million fortune.
Following her case, an investigation has been triggered.
The licences of potentially thousands of doctors are being looked at.