Hospital defends chief pharmacist who bought fake doctorate

THE chief pharmacist at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon bought a doctorate from a fake university, a report has uncovered. A BBC investigation discovered that 150 people in Britain had bought degrees over the internet from a fake university in Ameri

THE chief pharmacist at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon bought a doctorate from a fake university, a report has uncovered.

A BBC investigation discovered that 150 people in Britain had bought degrees over the internet from a fake university in America called St Regis.

One of those was Janet Watkinson, associate director of pharmacy at the Huntingdon hospital - she purchased a PhD in 2003 and asked for it to be backdated to 1985.

While Ms Watkinson has used the title doctor, the hospital has said the 'doctorate' was not used to affect her career.


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A spokesman for Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust said the fake degree was not put forward when Ms Watkinson applied for the job.

It said: "We can confirm that Janet Watkinson did not disclose her PhD in her application for the post of associate director of pharmacy when she first joined the trust, nor has she disclosed it in any applications for subsequent positions and it was not a requirement for those positions.

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"The person specification for the post of associate director of pharmacy requires a degree in pharmacy and a post-graduate diploma or equivalent in clinical pharmacy. She met these requirements."

The statement added: "Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust is confident that its qualification checking procedures are robust and would like to reiterate that Janet is a respected and valued member of staff."

The investigation on the Donal MacIntyre programme on Five Live found that some 150 people in Britain had bought false academic qualifications from a network of internet-based fake universities in America.

In a statement to the BBC, Ms Watkinson said: "I was totally unaware that the University of St Regis was not a legitimate academic body. I feel foolish to have been taken in by them.

"My objective had been for recognition for research work undertaken earlier in my career.

"There are very few instances on public record where the title doctor has been applied to my name. As a result of your letter I am contacting as many people as I am able where the title doctor has been applied and I am doing so in writing."

The BBC report found that between 1999 and 2004 nearly 10,000 people bought fake degrees - customers could choose which degree they wanted, whether a BA BSc or post-graduate qualification.

You could also backdate your degree or doctorate if you had work you had completed earlier which you felt merited a degree. The programme said that in 1985, Ms Watson had published papers in a health journals about a clinical trial she had been working.

However, Bridget Haywood, Pro Vice Chancellor at the Open University, told the programme that it would be unlikely that a British institution would backdate a doctorate.

The founders of St Regis were sentenced to three years' in prison for selling over $6million worth of bogus qualifications.

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