Read here to see how Mr. Robert Page, the former Undergraduate Dean of the University of Sheffield medical school gave false information in the case of General Medical Council vs. Dr Sushant Varma and got away with it.

22nd April 2021

Mr. Page was asked to give evidence to support an allegation that I made a fraudulent entry to sit the United Examining Board licensing exam in April/May 2001. I know he was approached sometime after April 2005. He just failed to mention in his witness statement that the University of Sheffield referred me to the General Medical Council in 2001 and I was cleared. Let's go through the whole allegation.

Rebuttal of the UEB allegation.

There is a GMC rule that states, “You must be honest and trustworthy when writing reports, completing or signing forms, or providing evidence in litigation or other formal inquiries? This means that you must take reasonable steps to verify any statement before you sign a document. You must not write or sign documents which are false or misleading because they omit relevant information”

Qualification

A UK trained doctor can qualify through one of two routes. A university qualification (MBBS) or a United Examining Board (UEB) qualification run by The Society of Apothecaries. Well the UEB has been shut down now. At which point the doctor is given provisional registration with the General Medical Council. The doctor is termed a Pre Registration House Officer (PRHO) or a Junior House Officer (JHO)

The UEB exam

However, the UEB is has a reputation of being more difficult. Most people who take the UEB are qualified doctors from abroad. Most do a one-year training course in preparation. Even then, they take several attempts to pass. It is harder than the PLAB exam. PLAB is an exam taken by foreign graduates if they wish to work in the United Kingdom. In one experiment, 200 UK medical graduates to took the PLAB. Only two passed. One of my friends has passed PLAB and passed a postgraduate exam with a 30% pass rate and took four attempts to pass the UEB. I hold the UEB. I would never have qualified if it hadn't been for the UEB.

It’s only when you do the UEB you realize how little you need to know to pass a University medical school exam and how easy they are compared to the UEB. I would say that 5% of the information I needed to know to pass the UEB would have got me through all my exams at the University of Sheffield with distinction.

Registration

After a doctor qualifies, he/she is required to do a one-year house year. Usually six months in general medicine and six months in surgery. After completing these satisfactorily the doctor is granted full registration with the General Medical Council.

The Postgraduate Dean's Role

The role of the Post Graduate Dean is to supervise the PRHO year of newly qualified doctors. He does this by receiving reports from the Educational Supervisors of the PRHO for each post. If these are submitted and the PRHO has completed the appropriate balance of experience laid down by the GMC, usually 6 months each in medicine and surgery, the PG dean then signs the Certificate of Experience and sends it to the degree awarding body, normally a medical school but in my case the UEB for counter signature.

The dean pays the PRHO's salary. However, in return the hospital is expected to train the doctor. The dean is ultimately responsible for the doctor's training and disciplinary issues. The dean must authorize the suspension of a PRHO.

How the process is different for UEB graduates

The process for UEB graduates is slightly different in that the United Examining Board is not able to establish approved posts for PRHOs and relies on its graduates filling spare appointments. This often means that they are not in the area of the medical schools to which they have been attached. As the PG Dean is concerned only with the PRHO year, this has never proved to be a difficulty in the past. Indeed, on several occasions, the availability of jobs has forced UEB graduates to take two PRHO appointments with different supervising PG deans and this has presented no problem in the signing of the Certificate of Experience.

How a UK medical student enters the UEB exam- 1st sitting

At the time of my 1st sitting the rules for a UK medical student to sit the UEB first time he/she must get the dean or an authorized officer of his/her parent medical school to certify that

    The candidate has completed no less than 30 months clinical training.
  • The candidate is of equal standing to a UK medical student at the point of graduation.
  • The student has not been excluded from the university for academic reasons.

You can see the regulations by clicking this link where you can see the regulations.

After I sat the exam 1st time the UEB changed the rules to state that the dean must write to the UEB who will decide whether to admit the student to the exam if there are special circumstances. I always knew that Sheffield University would never tell the truth (and I have been proven to be right – see below) and so I told them myself. There is nothing in the rules that says that the candidate cannot tell the UEB their side of the story.

How a UK medical student enters the UEB exam- re-sits

For a re-sit the candidate must give the UEB satisfactory evidence of remedial study at an UK or EC recognized medical school. It does not have to be the candidate’s own medical school. There was one student from Cambridge who sat the exam first time, failed it and then went to another medical school did the training and passed it. The UEB allow this because of the availability of medical school attachments.

The rule of exclusion from the parent university does not apply to re-sits so long as the candidate has made an attempt at the UEB examination prior to the university exclusion-the letter from former GMC Education Division chair and president dated 15th June 2001 confirms this.

The primary allegation

The most serious allegation that I faced at the GMC was the allegation that I fraudulently gained entry to sit the UEB exam for a resit attempt and sat it without the backing of my parent university. However it is clear from the above that this is not required.

Student review hearings

At all material times if a student were to fail an examination more than once as an undergraduate then the student would face a student review hearing. The committee of 3 staff would have the power to allow a student another attempt, exclude the student or other things. The procedure was that the relevant department of the university would detail a report to the committee. The student would see that report. The committee would meet and the student had the right to attend with or without representation- which can be legal representation if the student wants. The student or representative would give a statement. The committee would then decide the student’s fate.

Snowballing

Snowballing. NHS trusts like many employers, if they cannot justify a case snowball as much trivia as they can get to justify a referral to the General Medical Council.

This document is an obvious example. You can see that North Cheshire Hospitals snowballed as much trivia as they could to justify a case. Had they simply just come up to me I would have shown them the memo of 3rd September 2001 (below) and that would have been the end of it.

Mr. Page used the 7 assertions in his letter of 28th June 2001 to the UEB as the basis of his witness statement to the GMC.

Mr Page alleged that I was not a fully registered student at my parent university at the time of the exam on 30th April, 1 and 2 May 2001.

I re-registered at the University on 14 August 2000 see my registration document, My registration ended on 9 June 2001. Thus at the time of sitting the UEB exam in May 2001. I was a fully registered student. However you don’t need to be. I paid a fee of £200 I was a mature student. As such I could claim this back from my local education authority. The university was obliged to give me a letter from the head of department to confirm attendance.

That the letter of 30 November 2000 that Mr Page signed was to be used to reclaim travel expenses.

I never said travel expenses in my email of 22 November 2000 (see my email of 22nd November 2000) and in any event I did use that letter to reclaim expenses from my Local Education Authority (click here to see my letter of 6th December 2000.)

Page told the GMC that I had failed my university finals in November 2000 and a student review would follow. subsequent student review hearing could result in exclusion

After I tried to claim back re-sit fees from my local education authority the university sent me the documents for the Faculty Student Review Committee of 12 January 2001.The most important document was the report from the Level 5 course tutor Dr Angel.

That hearing was adjourned because of an outstanding appeal. See the university letter of 15th January 2001. The appeal which was rejected on 27 February 2001 (see the letter from the University dated 27th February 2001).

Mr. Page told the GMC that the University did not know that I was sitting the UEB exam.

On 29 March 2001 the university informed us that the reconvened review was going to be on 1 May 2001 (see the letter from the University dated 29th March 2001) . On 11 April 2001 the UEB gave the dates of the exam. 30 April, 1 and 2 may 2001 (see the UEB admission document.)

The University reconvened a student review hearing on 1 May 2001. The day I was due to sit the UEB exam. Clearly they knew. Indeed on graduation day the UEB registrar told me that before I sat the exam the university had rang them on several occasions to ask if I was sitting the exam. The UEB refused to say but they insisted to know the dates.

Page told the GMC that I had failed my University finals in November 2000

Attached to my response to Mr. Page’s witness statement there is a letter from Mr. Richard Price then of Howells solicitors. His forwarding letter states that I couldn’t attend, he asked for an adjournment but if they weren’t willing to adjourn this is what we’d say anyway see Richard Price's letter of 27th April 2001.

This letter details the misconduct of Professor Weetman (dean of the medical faculty and a GMC member) in the way he put forward very selective and adversarial evidence to a review committee It also shows that had the university procedures been followed properly I would have passed

I wrote the letter in the first person. Richard converted it to the 3rd person and added a bit of legal language to it. However as you can see an exam decision was overturned from fail to pass on 1 June 1998. Another could have been overturned in April 2001, largely because I got hold of information that other students don’t get hold of. I have often wondered to this day how many times the powers that be have falsified exam results.

The hearing was adjourned after this letter was submitted.

I note that Weetman is a GMC member. I also recall comments made by the GMC president in a taped interview saying “the way to deal with that is to deal with the dean or lecturer who is being awkward and take them head on.”

I qualified with the UEB exam on 8 May 2001and informed the university of this on 11 June 2001.

Mr. Page told the GMC that I didn’t have the support of my parent medical school.

See above

Mr. Page thought that my request for a confirmatory letter was to claim travel expenses.

I did use it for that purpose.

On 14 August 2000 I re-registered with Sheffield university and paid a fee of £200 for the re-sit course. As such the University was obliged to give me a letter confirming that I had completed the course after completion.

Mr. Page said I was facing disciplinary action prior to the UEB exam.

Disciplinary action started on 27 June 2001- after I passed the UEB exam (see the letter from the University of 27th June 2001.) On 12 January 2001 some adverts for senior house officer posts came out in the British Medical Journal. I applied for them with two identical CVs. One had an English name, one had an Indian name. David Smith got shortlisted for all 4 posts. Sanjar Sharma just two. Several of the consultants who discriminated were examiners in my November 2000 examination. One of them was Professor Weetman himself.

This is exactly the same experiment that GMC fitness to practice panelist Sam Everington did in 1993. The GMC took no action against him.

On 13th June 2001 the university wrote to the UEB alleging fraud. However it is not true to say that the Undergraduate Dean told me in January 2001 that he didn’t support a 3rd attempt at the UEB. How could he? I never received a letter. I never got a phone call and indeed while Student review procedures are in progress you are not allowed on university premises.

Two days later the UEB replied saying all was in order see their letter of 15th June 2001.

Mr. Page wrote to the UEB by way of his letter dated 28th June 2001.

He made the above assertions.

The UEB replied on 6th July 2001 saying if you go round signing blank forms you are an idiot.

As well as that over the summer of 2001 Professor Weetman referred me to the GMC on this very charge and I was cleared.

You can see Professor Weetman's email of 6th July 2001 to Professor Catto enclosing the forms and Mr. Page's letter to the UEB.

You can also see see Professor Weetman's letter of 31 July 2001 enclosing the UEB's reply of 6th July 2001.

On 3rd September 2001 Weetman met Professor Catto and the minutes say.

NOTE OF MEETING BETWEEN PROFESSOR TONY WEETMAN AND PROFESSOR GRAEME CATTO ON 3 SEPTEMBER 2001

1 The meeting was convened in order to consider the following matters: issues surrounding the recent visit to the UEA Medical School and correspondence from Professor Weetman concerning Sushant Varma.

Sushant Varma

2 Professor Weetman had written to Professor Catto outlining the circumstances in which Sushant Varma, one of his former students at the University of Sheffield had obtained entry for a second attempt at the UEB examination following his failure to graduate from his parent University. The University‘s claim that Mr. Varma had acted fraudulently in securing this second attempt was not supported by the UEB. Mr. Varma had subsequently passed the UEB examination in May 2001, had severed his connections with the University of Sheffield and had been appointed without a reference to a PRHO post in Lancashire.

3 Professor Catto pointed out that there was no factual evidence that Mr. Varma had fraudulently gained entry to the UEB examination and therefore no grounds for the GMC to become involved at this stage. As Mr. Varma had formally resigned from the University of Sheffield it no longer had a responsibility for monitoring his performance as a PRHO. Professor Catto suggested to Professor Weetman that the University of Sheffield might wish to add a brief factual note to Mr. Varma’s file simply confirming his tenure as a student and recording his success in the UEB examination. The current UEB regulations now forbid failed UK medical students to sit its qualifying examinations.

Compare that to Mr. Page's witness statement.

Clearly a perversion of the course of justice. Why did he fail to mention the minutes of the meeting of 3 September 2001?

Now please go to and pressurise the government to prosecute Mr. Page.