Nursing diplomas can be bought for as little as £43 in the Philippines, I can reveal today.

Doubts about Victorino Chua’s qualifications emerged after this newspaper alerted police to suspicions over his credentials back in 2012.

And – helped by my photographer colleague Jamie Wiseman – I have found there is a rampant trade in bogus exam certificates in Manila, with fixers and forgers always on hand to fabricate any document.

The Mail’s revelations are a major embarrassment to ministers, hospital chiefs and officials at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which regulates nursing.

In March 2013, the council imposed a temporary recruitment freeze on foreign nurses amid fears that workers could have faked documents to get jobs here. Yet hundreds of nurses are still being recruited from the Philippines by NHS trusts, because of a massive shortfall of staff.

The ‘passport’ to a nursing job in the UK is provided by organised crime networks who employ some of the world’s best forgers.

On Recto Avenue in downtown Manila are stalls openly offering fake nursing degrees, education records, diploma pictures, police clearance to work overseas, passports, driving licences and birth and marriage certificates. Police turn a blind eye in return for bribes.

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