Fake Scottish psychiatrist may have prescribed electro-convulsive therapy

Zholia Alemi may have prescribed ECT and wrongly detained mental health patients. Picture: PA
Zholia Alemi may have prescribed ECT and wrongly detained mental health patients. Picture: PA
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A bogus psychiatrist who treated hundreds of patients in Scotland may have referred some for needless electro-convulsive therapy, Scotland’s chief medical officer has warned.

Dr Catherine Calderwood said that some others may have been detained under the Mental Health Act or “groomed” to gain access to their finances.

Zholia Alemi worked in the NHS for 22 years despite having no qualifications. One health board confirmed 24 of her patients were detained or “sectioned”.

Alemi was jailed for five years last October for defrauding patients. A court in Carlisle heard she faked a patient’s will in an attempt to inherit her £1.3m estate.

After her conviction, it emerged that Alemi had dropped out of medical school in New Zealand and moved to the UK in 1995.

She worked at a number of NHS locations across the UK, including six Scottish health boards which have now been asked to check their records.

Calderwood has now written to them, asking them to identify patients who were significantly affected by Alemi through “prescription of drugs, electro-convulsive therapy, treatment or diagnosis, or in the use of the Mental Health Act”.

In the letter, obtained by a newspaper, she added: “She is known to have befriended and ‘groomed’ vulnerable people that she came into contact with as a psychiatrist with the ultimate aim of accessing their financial affairs.”