NHS team jailed for £430,000 moonlighting scam

 

CRIME CORRESPONDENT

A team of medical experts were jailed today for billing the NHS for more than £430,000 of work while they were moonlighting at seven other hospitals.

The four perfusionists – specialists who operate heart and lung machines during surgery – were employed by Basildon hospital in Essex, but the hospital’s cardiothoracic unit performed too few operations for their services to be needed all the time.

The four, who set up a private company called London Perfusion Science, emailed each other about doing “face shows” at Basildon but earned hundreds of thousands of pounds working at London hospitals closer to their homes. Junior members of staff were told by the team to work at other hospitals but were not paid by the company.

The scam was undone when an anonymous whistleblower prompted an investigation by the NHS counter-fraud team. The four were tracked through an electronic security system which monitored them going in and out of the hospital and its car park.

John Mulholland – an expert in his field who has published papers in international journals – was jailed for three years. Fellow directors Ann Clements, 51, and Martin Oliver, 37, who like Mulholland lived in Limehouse, east London, and Tom Cumberland, 42, from Penge, south London, all received two-year sentences.

John Mulholland has been jailed for three years for conspiracy to defraud the NHS John Mulholland has been jailed for three years for conspiracy to defraud the NHS Sue Frith, head of investigations at NHS Protect, the health service counter-fraud team, said: “These custodial sentences reflect the seriousness of the offences and will act as a powerful deterrent to others.”

Investigators found that while the four were given full-time salaries from Basildon NHS Trust, they only worked there for 55 per cent of their contracted hours. It meant that they were overpaid for 14,000 hours of work.

Andrew Penhale, deputy head of fraud at the CPS, said: “John Mulholland and his co-defendants took advantage of their specialist role to systematically defraud Basildon NHS Trust for their own dishonest enrichment. Their emails revealed that they did so with cynical disregard for the loss to the National Health Service and the public purse.”

NHS Protect said it was investigating allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption with a potential value of more than £20m.

A former head of the counter-fraud team claimed earlier this year that the scale was much bigger, and that fraud was costing the NHS £5bn a year, with errors costing another £2bn. The estimate was based on global figures which suggested that average losses were about 7 per cent of healthcare budgets.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss