Neil Taylor also admitted he had produced a bogus degree certificate purporting to be from the University of Nottingham in an effort to keep his job as head of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust.

Taylor, 42, who resigned last October, pleaded guilty to obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and attempting to commit a similar offence, when he appeared before magistrates in Shrewsbury. The defendant, from Solihull, West Midlands, was granted unconditional bail to reappear for sentence at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

Outside court, Taylor, who has only two A-levels, said: "I did something foolish... but I did not do it for financial advantage; I did it because of the pressures I was under."

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