Mission Investigate exposé: Fake nurses working at Swedish hospitals

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There are nurses at work in Sweden today who are licensed despite having had no professional training. Mission Investigate’s research reveals a pattern of fraud where fake nurses claim to have studied full time in Romania and Poland while living and working in Sweden – as, for instance, a tiler, shop assistant and lorry driver.

Supported by foreign diplomas and degrees, the nurses have been approved and licensed by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare. But even if their certificates are authentic, the investigators find that they are no guarantee of anyone having actually studied.

“Alex”, who is currently working at Sahlgrenska Hospital, reveals that he travelled to the college in Romania to take his final exams. He received his diploma and became a licensed nurse, first in Romania and then in Sweden. 

“I've managed quite well so far. I've made no mistakes, at least. Not even in an emergency. You just call an ambulance.” 

“I’ve admitted not having much experience” 

For two of the three years that, according to his diploma, “Alex” was training as a nurse, he was working as a lorry driver in Sweden and studying Swedish for Immigrants. 

To learn about the job, he worked for a few months as a nursing auxiliary. 

Did it ever cross your mind that the patients could be in danger?

”Yes, and I've said so in the job interview too. I've admitted not having much experience and that I've not worked before either.”

At least 27 people have bluffed their way into healthcare 

“Alex” is not the only registered nurse to have no proper training.

Mission Investigate’s research shows that a total of 27 medical workers have bluffed their way into the profession; not only those who claim to have studied abroad but also people who have forged degrees and diplomas. Some are currently under police investigation, others have already been convicted – and yet others are still working in hospitals in Sweden. 

Moreover, 335 unlicensed doctors and nurses have been employed without background checks. These people might well have the proper training for the profession – but they have obtained no licence from the National Board of Health and Welfare, nor have they applied for one.

However, the report also shows that there are several cases where nurses claim to have studied full time as a nurse in another country while having lived and worked in Sweden. Nurses like this can be found at such hospitals as Danderyd, Sahlgrenska and St Göran’s.

Training must be full time

There's an EU directive that details what a nursing training course must include if it's to guarantee patient safety. Study must be full time and cover 4,600 hours of teaching – half of it is theory, the other half is practice.

And yet colleges in Romania and Poland have issued diplomas and degrees to students who have not attended any course.

  • One woman was earning around 300,000 kronor a year working as a shop assistant in central Sweden at the same time as she was meant to have been studying in Poland.  
  • One man also earned around 300,000 kronor a year working as a tiler and on various construction projects in Stockholm. At the same time, he was registered to attend a college in Romania.  
  • Another man worked in Sweden as a lorry driver when he, according to the basis of his nursing license, was studying full time in Romania.  
  • A woman who obtained a nursing licence in Sweden was working full time for a bank in Romania while, according to the college, she was a full-time student nurse.

Principal: I don’t know every student 

When Mission Investigate visits one of the nursing colleges in Romania to ask about the diplomas, the headmaster maintains that everything is in order. Even for the people who evidently had other full-time occupations while supposedly studying there.

We know that these individuals have worked full time in Sweden. How is that possible?

“We have 600 students here. I don't know every one of them and I don’t know where they are or what they do. But if they come to the college, have their grades, sit their exams, we register each one. This means that they've attended the college,” says Ţăran Camelia. 

The National Board of Health and Welfare go by submitted diplomas

Zara Warglo is divisional manager at the National Board of Health and Welfare. She has not heard of these fake nurses who claim to have studied in Romania while actually doing something else.

“This situation is nothing I recognise. But, of course, they've applied on the basis of genuine documentation. And what we do when considering such cases is look at the degree certificates that they submit with their applications. And we also request certificates from the corresponding national authorities.”

But we know that these people have been somewhere else?

“This is a matter for the country in question. Our role is to inform people about this, so we can start a proper dialogue. We all, within the bounds of the EU, need to cooperate and find solutions to problems like this.”

Mission Investigate’s report on Fake Nurses will be broadcast on SVT1 on Wednesday the 14th of November and is available on SVT Play from 1 p.m.

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