The case of 56-year-old Zholia Alemi, who wasn't properly checked by the UK's General Medical Council (GMC) and therefore allowed to practice psychiatry for over two decades, has prompted investigations into the backgrounds of 3,000 doctors.
Angry patients demanded a full probe into the pseudo-psychiatrist after it was revealed she treated patients as NHS doctor, despite not having the required qualifications.
@gmcuk the outrageous story of Zholia Alemi is revealed and yet you persist with energies that make it punitively difficult for fully trained UK doctors to return to work after a period of time raising a family. I know because it's happened to me.— Jane Wareing (@janeewareing) November 18, 2018
It's the regulator that failed, not the profession. As it did with Bawa Gerba— Harish Parmar (@hpazz) November 19, 2018
So.@gmcuk screwed up with #ZholiaAlemi registration, enabling her to practice fraudulently for years. Core function of GMC abdicated. Inexcusable. Waiting for resignations; remembering the #BawaGarba persecution.— DDX (@missile53) November 19, 2018
Zholia Alemi was suspended from the medical register on 23 June 2017 and has been serving a five-year prison sentence since October 2018.
"As soon as we became aware that she used a fraudulent qualification to join the register, we contacted the police and other organisations responsible for healthcare services in the UK. It's vital that we all now take the necessary action to support patients and investigate these serious issues.
"It is clear that in this case, the steps taken at the time she joined the register were inadequate and we apologise for any risk arising to patients as a result. We are confident that, 23 years on, our systems are robust and would identify any fraudulent attempt to join the medical register," the General Medical Council said in a statement.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists also responded to Zholia Alemi investigation with an official message that wasn't received well by all.
Letting us know that you are helpin g the GMC is not a response. Letting us know whether she was a Member/Fellow of the @rcpsych would be more useful— 🎵 Slim Estrada🎵 #FBPE (@SlimEstrada) November 19, 2018
But was she a useful practising psychiatrist? And if so what do we learn?— HealthCarer (@HCCommentator1) November 19, 2018
The Medical Act, not in force since 2003, allowed medical school graduates from certain Commonwealth countries to join the UK's medical register, provided they received appropriate qualifications at home — an opportunity used by Alemi, a self-proclaimed medic from New Zealand.