A bogus dentist with no qualifications managed to fool her employers at NHS hospitals for nine years before being discovered, the Daily Mail reports today.
Vinisha Sharma used a fake degree certificate to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) and was employed by seven different hospitals where she operated on patients under supervision.
Despite having been investigated by the GDC in 2003, her deception was only discovered after a colleague raised concerns about her skills and knowledge of the job, prompting the Council to take another look at the case.
Sharma, who claimed she had a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree in India, earned roughly £230,000 as a senior house officer on annual contracts over the period.
The 37-year-old said that she had studied at the Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Amritsar, but the university had no record of her ever attending or graduating.
Such was her self-delusion that she even had the letters BDS – Bachelor of Dental Surgery – as part of her personalised Mercedes number plate.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that from February 2000 to February 2009 she was employed by seven NHS hospitals.
She found work at the Oral and Maxillofacial departments at hospitals in Wolverhampton, Burton, Southend, Essex, Peterborough and Stamford and Sussex.
Sharma was also employed at Basildon and Thurrock hospital but was signed off sick for the entire period of her six month contract.
Her role involved examining patients, carrying out minor surgical procedures and dealing with trauma alongside senior consultants.
Dentists working in hospitals take on the more difficult cases that cannot be done in the community.
Sharma, of Willenhall, West Midlands, was charged after an investigation by the NHS Counter Fraud Service.
Prosecutors said her fraud was only discovered when a consultant, Patrick Magennis, raised concerns about her qualifications in 2008.
He had already raised a complaint about her fitness to practise in 2003, telling the GDC that she needed close supervision due to her lack of skills and knowledge.
But investigators from the Council closed the case in 2004 without discovering her secret.
In 2007, Sharma tried to gain full registration with the GDC.
This was a paper exercise, but it was turned down because she did not appear to have the requisite knowledge and skill for full registration as a dentist.
However, she managed to carry on working due to her temporary registration. This included operating on people under supervision.
She appealed this decision and was turned down in April 2008, but her fraud again remained undiscovered.
Sharma told investigators that she had ‘never had any complaints’ from her patients. Source Daily Mail.
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