The latest scandal in the NHS involves Zholia Alemi, a ‘consultant psychiatrist’ who was jailed last month for 5 years. As a result it will now be necessary to review the qualifications of 3,000 foreign doctors who are registered with the GMC (General Medical Council). Perhaps it is time for the GMC and the NHS to implement polygraph examinations for doctors in the registration or pre-employment screening process.
Who is Zholia Alemi?
Alemi was registered with the GMC in 1995 and worked as an NHS ‘consultant psychiatrist’ in a career that spanned 22 years. That career came to an end in June 2017 when she was investigated for fraudulently redrafting the last will and testament of one of her patients, Gillian Bellingham. The 84 year old pensioner consulted Alemi due to difficulties she was experiencing in coming to terms with her husband’s death. Alemi also applied for a Power of Attorney to gain fraudulent control over the patient’s £1.8 million estate.
Alemi had pleaded not guilty to all charges against her at Carlisle Crown Court but was found guilty on 4 counts of theft and fraud.
The case inspired the News & Star in Cumbria to investigate further and the newspaper revealed that Alemi was not a qualified doctor. The qualifications she submitted to the GMC from the University of Aukland were forgeries. Whilst she had spent one year of a 5 year course studying medicine there she never graduated. The full scale of Alemi’s deception in exploiting a vulnerable widow can be seen by clicking on Zholia Alemi.
SCAN (Scientific Content Analysis) to process multiple records
Tasked with reviewing 3,000 registered, foreign doctors’ records the GMC will need good tools. Naturally, over the years their screening processes have evolved since Alemi duped the GMC. But we recommend they use SCAN (Scientific Content Analysis) to assist them in the review. This would identify the impostors.
SCAN works by qualified examiners scrutinising questionnaires that have been completed by subjects. Given that a doctor’s time is valuable, the questionnaires can be faxed to them. When completed they are then faxed back to examiners who will determine the veracity of their answers. In this way batches of 100 completed questionnaires can be processed at once. If deception is found those who failed the questionnaire may then be asked to submit to polygraph examinations for doctors or other further in depth investigation can take place.
The GMC issued a statement regarding Alemi which you can access by click on Statement on Zholia Alemi
How polygraph examinations for doctors can help
When registering with the GMC, together with their qualifications, doctors should also submit evidence that they have passed a lie detector test. The same should apply for those seeking employment in the NHS or any other medical facility.
As well as polygraph examinations for doctors, polygraph services can easily be applied for all medical staff. It’s clear we want those who have the lives of patients in their hands to be suitably qualified with a level of integrity second to none.
We invite the GMC and the NHS to contact us for further information.