'Fake doctor' who worked in Australia not registered in Singapore: SMC

'Fake doctor' who worked in Australia not registered in Singapore: SMC
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This article was updated at 4:40pm on Mar 14.

The man who is accused of fraudulently presenting himself as a doctor in Australia is not a registered doctor here, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) said on Mar 14.

On Mar 10, Australian news media reported that the man allegedly pretended to be a doctor and practised in public hospitals in the state of New South Wales in Australia, and could now be in Singapore.

Shyam Acharya, who is accused of pretending to be British doctor Sarang Chitale, told neighbours that he was making "back and forth trips to Singapore" for work, ABC reported over the weekend.

The neighbours ABC spoke to said that Acharya had not been seen for months, and when contacted, he told them that he was working overseas.

"I have been doing a lot of back and forth trips to Singapore. I will be back on 31st March," read a text message believed to be sent by Acharya to his neighbours in January.

The Australian Associated Press also reported that a neighbour recalled Acharya saying he often travelled to Singapore to work as an emergency department doctor.

But those claims may not be true afterall. SMC told AsiaOne in an e-mail reply that there are no registered doctors with the name of either Shyam Acharya or Sarang Chitale in Singapore.

Described as a "nice person and a good neighbour", Acharya lived with his wife and their young daughter, who have not left the country, The Daily Telegraph reported. The girl is believed to be around five years old and was born in Australia, the report said.

Acharya worked in four New South Wales hospitals for 11 years, and had allegedly entered the country on a fake passport.

Last week, the state's health minister Brad Hazzard said an independent inquiry would be launched, adding that Acharya's A$1.25 million (S$1.34 million) house could be seized to recoup wages paid to him.

"We will be doing everything we can to recover the cost of the house so taxpayers can get their money back," Mr Hazzard was quoted by ABC as saying.

Suspicions of Acharya's medical background arose when Novotech, a clinical research company he worked for, alerted authorities last year. He had previously also worked for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile, the real Dr Chitale, who is "held in high regard within the British medical community", was described by The Daily Telegraph to be "distressed" by the idea that someone had stolen his identity to practise medicine elsewhere.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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