Scotland

Patients told about bogus psychiatrist Zholia Alemi

Zholia Alemi Image copyright Cumbria Police
Image caption Zholia Alemi was found guilty of four theft and fraud charges in connection with a patient's £1.3m estate

Health boards in Scotland are to write to patients who were treated by the bogus psychiatrist Zholia Alemi.

The medical school dropout from New Zealand is thought to have seen hundreds of patients in Scotland.

Alemi worked for the NHS in various parts of the UK for 22 years despite having no qualifications.

Her background came to light when she was jailed for five years last October at Carlisle Crown Court.

She had been found guilty of four fraud and theft charges.

The court heard she faked a patient's will in an attempt to inherit her £1.3m estate.

The Scottish government has said the relevant clinical records in each of the health boards are being reviewed by consultant psychiatrists.

They will identify decisions made by Alemi "to offer appropriate advice and support".

'Extremely upsetting'

Letters will be sent to the affected patients over the coming months. BBC Scotland understands the first of the letters are about to be sent.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "I know that this will be extremely upsetting for people and their families.

"The General Medical Council now has processes in place to ensure that this won't happen again.

"I also wish to reassure people that the remainder of their care and treatment was delivered by fully qualified doctors."

Ms Freeman added: "If anyone affected has any further questions, they can get in touch with their local board."

Detained patients

When Alemi's actions were uncovered, one health board - NHS Ayrshire and Arran - confirmed that she treated 395 adults while working as a locum for 18 months from 2007.

During this time 24 of these patients were detained by Alemi under the Mental Health Act.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran medical director Dr Alison Graham said the health board would be contacting all those affected.

She added: "We would like to apologise for any distress this situation may have caused. If patients were treated by this individual and have concerns, we would advise them to contact our mental health services team."

The General Medical Council (GMC) has said checks were now more "rigorous" than those carried out at the time Alemi moved to the UK.

The GMC has created a web page with advice for anyone who is concerned that they were treated by Alemi.

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