Doctors cheating scandal: Thousands of NHS student medics pay other academics to write their university essays, MailOnline investigation reveals
- Shadowy websites peddle essays on all topics from asthma to cancer
- This allows student doctors and nurses to qualify without writing their own essays
- At least 7,000 medical students are thought to cheat in this way each year
- Dr Thomas Lancaster of Staffordshire University said that this raises serious concerns about integrity of NHS medics
- It comes after a major MailOnline investigation in Kenya exposed the inner workings of the murky essay writing industry
Thousands of student doctors and nurses are paying other academics to write their university essays, a MailOnline investigation reveals.
Hundreds of shadowy websites peddle essays on all topics from asthma to cancer, allowing student medics to avoid writing essays themselves.
Dr Thomas Lancaster of Staffordshire University said that this calls into question the integrity of NHS staff and raises concerns about other forms of malpractice.
‘The real danger is that doctors who have cheated go on to other forms of unscrupulous behaviour,’ he said. ‘They are developing a lack of integrity while at university.
‘The public would be outraged to know that the doctors responsible for their care are cheats.’
It comes after a major MailOnline investigation in Kenya exposed the inner workings of the murky essay writing industry, which is estimated to be worth £100 million.
In a further development, a reporter approached four different essay factories posing as a student doctor, and was offered a cheating service every time.
The firms – Kenyan-based Amexwrite, Ukrainian Custom Writings, Academic Assignments in India and Write My Essay Today – responded instantly to enquiries via online messenger.
HOW MANY MEDICAL STUDENTS CHEAT?
It is impossible to know exactly how many student medics cheat, as the vast majority do not admit it and most do not get caught.
Estimates vary, with some researchers saying that five per cent of students cheat while others put the figure at 15 per cent.
Conservative estimates indicate that at least 115,000 British students buy essays each year, with about 7,000 of these thought to be trainee doctors and nurses.
But the true figures are likely much higher. ‘Everything to do with cheating is more widespread than we know,’ Dr Lancaster, a researcher in contract cheating, said.
‘I’ve come across many sites aimed specifically at doctors and nurses. There is obviously enough demand for a thriving medical essay market.’
When asked to provide a complete medical essay that was ready for submission, a representative for Write My Essay Today responded: ‘certainly, that is what we focus on’.
The other companies gave similar responses. Amexwrite claimed to have ‘experts even on medical field’, while Academic Assignments said ‘there is no catch’ and it was impossible for students to get caught.
Amexwrite is run by Kenyan millionaire James Waitutu Karuri, 36, who became rich on the profits of cheating, MailOnline has learnt.
Last week, we revealed that Kenya is the heart of the industry, with thousands of freelance writers producing coursework for British students.
When confronted in Nairobi, Mr Karuri claimed that his business had stopped offering the service in 2017 to pursue more legitimate lines of business.
But essay writing is still advertised on his website, and two of his sales representatives confirmed that they did provide this service for trainee medics.
The Amexwrite representatives also falsely insisted that the company was based in New York, denying that it was located in Kenya.
Lord Michael Storey, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on education, families and young people in the House of Lords, said:
‘I have very grave concerns, particularly when students cheat their way into jobs that have a lot of responsibility. It is astonishing that doctors and engineers cheated to get their qualifications.
‘There is a real danger to the public. The answer isn’t to criminalise the students, but we need to stop those firms from preying upon stressed and vulnerable young people.’
Dr Lancaster said that there was a particular risk to the NHS from doctors who qualified in countries where essay purchasing is even more widespread than in Britain.
‘There is certainly a risk among doctors who qualify outside the UK,’ he said. ‘In India, for example, buying essays is a big thing. If people qualify abroad and buy essays, then practise in the UK, there is obviously a risk there.’
Students often see purchasing essays as a convenient way to free up time to focus on the most challenging parts of their studies, he added.
‘Of course, student doctors need to do practical work as well as write essays,’ he said, ‘and they are really judged on their exams. It isn’t like they are buying their entire degree.
‘But they are on a very pressurised course. From their point of view, essay factories allow them to prioritise certain parts and outsource others.
‘For example, some concentrate on exam preparation and pay someone else to do the essays. The problem is that they are not studying the whole course properly.
‘Essays are there for a reason. There is no doubt that cheating may lead to other lapses of integrity.’
When contacted by MailOnline, most of the essay factories failed to respond. But a spokesman for India-based Academic Assignments said:
‘The purpose of our live chat agent is to generate database by asking the visitors to send email on any ground. Post which we offer tutoring and mentoring service.
‘Also we build database to sell it at a price. However we do not take essay order for any university submission. Hence we would not want to have any name in any form of media by any third party.’
The NHS, General Medical Council, British Medical Association, Medical Schools Council, Royal College of Physicians, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Royal College of Nursing and Health Education England all declined to comment.