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Kiwi woman who practised psychiatry for 23 years in UK without a licence jailed after faking patient's will

A New Zealand woman who practised psychiatry for over two decades in the UK without a licence has been jailed for five years after faking a dementia patient's will.

Her case has promoted a major investigation into overseas doctors who have been working in the UK.

Zholia Alemi, who worked as a consultant psychiatrist at Workington Community Hospital's Memory Matters dementia clinic in west Cumbria, was convicted of fraud and theft last month after redrafting the patient's will and applying for power of attorney over her NZ$1.6 million estate, the News and Star reports.

Alemi had befriended patient Gillian Belham after she struggled to cope with the death of her husband, taking the 84-year-old out for meals, shopping trips, and offering to help her with her finances.

Belham told police after the incident: "I think she just helped herself."

Alemi, who was registered in the UK in 1995, had falsely claimed to have a degree from the University of Auckland, despite dropping out after her first year.

The 56-year-old's fraudulent behaviour was discovered in 2016 after she was fired from her job following her arrest.

The medical tribunal service suspended her in June 2017.

The General Medical Council (GMC), which determines whether doctors are qualified to practice in the UK, said Alemi was able to join the UK's medical register under the Medical Act, which enabled medical school graduates from some Commonwealth countries to register with qualifications they had obtained in their home country.

The Act has not been in force since 2003.

The council has since apologised for its "inadequate checks" and "any risks arising to patients as a result" of their inadequate background checks in the 1990s.

Up to 3000 foreign doctors who registered for a licence under the Medical Act are urgently being reviewed following the fraud.

Zholia Almei’s secret was uncovered after she was jailed for trying to fake a will of an elderly client. Source: 1 NEWS