Australian police are hunting a fake doctor who has been using the identity of a former Wigan medical practitioner.
Shyam Acharya is wanted by the authorities Down Under after it was discovered he had been working in hospitals in New South Wales for 11 years using documents he had stolen from Dr Sarang Chitale, a rheumatologist with the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.
Acharya obtained his registration with the Medical Board of New South Wales in 2003 after using medical qualifications stolen from Dr Chitale and other fraudulent documents.
He was paid a six-figure salary as he worked in hospitals in the area until May 2014 before moving on to work for a medical research company, which became suspicious of Acharya in September.
The 41-year-old faces a maximum fine of $30,000 but his current whereabouts are unknown, and he is thought to have fled Australia after selling all his belongings.
The New South Wales government has launched a manhunt for Acharya.
The Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust described Dr Chitale as a ‘valued’ member of staff and said that Acharya’s fraudulent actions were ‘diabolical’ and ‘very upsetting’.
A spokesman for the trust said: “Dr Chitale is a valued member of the rheumatology department at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.
“We were shocked to hear of the deception that had taken place in Australia in Dr Chitale’s name.
“The General Medical Council is aware of the fraud and has been helping the Australian health authorities with their investigations.
“We would like to stress that Dr Chitale is very much the victim in this diabolical fraudulent act.
“The trust is providing Dr Chitale all the support and advice he needs to deal with this very upsetting cause of identity theft.”