Police have investigated 11 people suspected of practising medicine with fake medical degrees, over the past six years, they said on Friday.

The issue came to light when a patients’ rights group went public on Friday to say that two specialists were practicing with counterfeit degrees, and continue to do so because there is no clinical auditing in healthcare, the group said. Police spokesman, Christos Andreou, when asked about it later in the day said they had investigated such cases in the past.

“Police investigated 11 people suspected of having fake medical degrees, five in Nicosia and six in Limassol,” he said. Only one resulted in a conviction of two and a half years.

The two latest cases involving specialists were revealed by president of the Pancyprian Federation of Patients Associates and Friends, Marios Kouloumas who spoke on Cybc early on Friday.

He said the Cyprus medical association and police were aware of the two cases and that the same doctors appeared in administrative court five years ago, which ruled that their specialised qualifications were fake.

However, the case never proceeded to the criminal court.

“They must be prosecuted, it is a criminal offence to have fake papers, and especially for doctors,” Kouloumas said.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Kouloumas explained that the two doctors received their degrees from the same university where they also received their specialisation.

“Ideally, the specific university, which is not in the European Union, should be blacklisted in Cyprus,” the patients’ representative said.

The association has repeatedly spoken up about the “huge gaps and multiple problems” in the health sector due to the lack of competent bodies and legislation to check the quality of services.

“An independent body must be established which will implement medical and clinical auditing which is completely absent in Cyprus,” he told Cybc.

Kouloumas also highlighted the need to modernise the current legislation concerning the education and assessment of doctors.

Doctors in Cyprus are not subjected to any additional tests or checks after they are granted licences to practice.

The Cyprus Medical Association has frequently come under fire for not taking disciplinary action against members who commit criminal offences. There are ongoing cases involving sexual harassment of patients, and more recently doctors who were allegedly found giving out or selling fake vaccine cards.

The association has previously said it cannot act unless there is a criminal conviction first. However in one instance of sexual harassment, the doctor was convicted but still practices medicine even though two more sexual harassment cases are pending against him.

In a separate incident that became public, two elderly patients died while five other patients have each had to have one of their eyes removed after being infected during cataract surgery at a private hospital last year.

The private ophthalmologist who had to carry out corrective procedure on the damaged patients told the Cyprus Mail that “it is unusual eight patients in a row got infected. This meant that something during the surgery had gone wrong, either a procedure or a piece of equipment was broken or not cleaned properly”.

The health ministry had launched an investigation without publishing the results.

Cyprus Mail sources said that the same doctors continue to operate, while two more of their patients have experienced serious complications after the cataract surgery.