Five agency nurses have been sentenced for falsely claiming £73,000 from the NHS for work they did not do.
Charles Elad, 46, from Milton Keynes, worked as a recruitment officer at ID Medical recruited a number of temporary workers including registered nurse Violet Nhende.
Mr Elad enlisted Ms Nhende and healthcare assistants George Kiberu, Abosede Amusan, Ernest Anonyo and Rilindis Bessem to a number of fraudulent timesheets to the recruitment agency - who say they were unaware of the fraudulent activity taking place.
A number of NHS hospitals were targeted; Scunthorpe General Hospital, Royal Blackburn Hospital and Darlington Hospital - culminating in a total loss of £72,991, according to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority.
The fraud was discovered when an NHS worker questioned an unsolicited invoice and raised the matter with NHS Counter Fraud Authority to investigate.
Hundreds of timesheets.
The investigation team were able to identify hundreds of suspicious timesheets which had been falsified. On some occasions, the nurse who appeared to have signed the timesheet to authorise the payment did not exist.
The nurses paid Charles Elad a share of the proceeds and Tanyi Esekanh Elad allowed her bank account to be used to facilitate these payments.
Richard Rippin, Head of Operations at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, said he was “delighted with the outcome of this investigation”.
“All seven conspired to deliberately defraud multiple NHS organisations”.
“They had been employed to care for NHS patients, but instead took resources away from patient care for their own personal gain.
“It sends a message to anyone under the mistaken impression that NHS funds are an easy target for fraud, that they will be caught”.
Nurses are in a position of trust.
Nicola Wheeler, from the CPS, said: “Nurses are in a position of trust when working in our hospitals but in this case, each abused that trust fraudulently to claim money which was ultimately extracted from the NHS.
“Charles Elad was the driving force behind this fraud but these nurses played an important part in providing their names and details to complete the timesheets and split the proceeds with him.
“The CPS presented evidence that showed each defendant was aware that the timesheets they were submitting were false and were in regular contact with Charles Elad to send his share.”
The NHS Counter Fraud Authority says it is now trying to recover the funds and the matter will be referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.