Dr Phil Hammond, GP, lecturer and presenter of BBC2's Trust Me, I'm a Doctor


Male: Be Deeply Suspicious. 96% of bogus doctors are men. Female: You're probably OK
Tippex on GMC certificate: Not a good sign. But a dyslexic fraud famously bluffed his way through several jobs with a photocopied certificate, Tippexed mistakes and 'corrections' handwritten with spelling mistakes. Kosher certificate: Reassuring but not infallible. There are some good fakes around. Look for the watermark of the Queen.
Not from around here: Almost invariably trained somewhere he hopes you have no connections with whatsoever (e.g. Dundee). Claimes he did the local VTS: Very stupid or very worrying. Has he been stalking the course organiser? Should still catch him out on gossip, e.g. what's Professr Wilkins' nickname?
Poor communication skills: Perhaps, but then haven't we all. Usually authoritative enough to frighten the pharmacist who's phoned up to enquire why he's prescribing creosote for glue ear. Good communication skills: Like all psychopaths, they're often brilliantly deceptive bullshitters.
Passed a peer review: So what? Mohammed Saed, who holds the world record for deceiving the good people of Bradford for 30 years, was given the thumbs up by two doctors (believed genuine). Failed peer review: Will now receive the extensive retraining to allow him to impersonate a proper doctor.

Crap prescribing: Saed famously prescribed shampoo to swallow and cough mixture to rub in the scalp. But as both are placebos, does it matter? Certainly no patients complained.

Good prescribing: Medicine is all pattern recognition and a dip into the BNF. With all the popular medical books and programmes, you could easily assimilate enough knowledge to get it right most of the time.
Usually only ever been a locum: True, but not an aid to detection. One reason why bogus junior doctors escape detection is that consultants recognise medical training as abysmal and expect their juniors to be dreadful (locum or otherwise). Sometimes rises higher: Saed went straight in as a GP but 'John', whom we interviewed on Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, left school without exams, started as a casualty SHO, then an SHO in anesthetics, got all his exams and became a registrar. Trauma was his specialty.
Believes medical soaps: Almost diagnostic of bogus docs. In November 1996, a woman with 'a pear shaped face and brown wavy hair' posed as a GP to re-enact an episode of Dangerfield. She injected another woman in both arms with water. Are you working with her? Believes in himself: 'John' was very practical and claims he was much better than many real anaesthetists: "They had fellowships and memberships, but when they came to hands on, they were dreadful."

Claims royal patronage: Common amongst private bogus docs. In 1996, Ronald Rowland (66) renamed himself Sir Roland Rossi, set up a clinic in Knightsbridge as an acupuncturist and claimed to have treated the Queen Mother.

Proves royal patronage: Anyone who really does treat the Queen Mum gets on TV every time she has an operation. So if you haven't seen them on telly, theyre not royal docs.

Aren't terribly good at it: Rossi went overboard with the head and neck needles, causing Patricia Pick 'great pain and shaking.' She never went back.

Are fraudulent in other areas: Often the way they are detected. 'John' the anaesthetist was caught when he made bogus insurance claims.

But sometimes are: Dr Mike Norman was John the anaesthetist's consultant. "I can't remember him doing anything wrong. Everybody was very pleased with his work. he conducted himself as a doctor and had access to babies and children – he was particularly good with kids. In fact, if all frauds are as good as John, I don't know how you spot them."


Guidelines in Practice, November 1998, Volume 1
© 1998 MGP Ltd
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