Prison dentist behind bars for theft

A prison dentist who stole more than £300,000 of tax-payer cash was jailed for 30 months, the NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFS) said today.

John Hudson, 58, failed to declare he was already being paid by private healthcare companies for his work at Altcourse Prison, in Merseyside, when he secured an NHS contract to deliver the same services.

The dentist went on to claim a series of double payments for treating prisoners, the CFS said.

Following a CFS investigation, Hudson, of Highgate Lane, Whitworth, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to 27 counts of the Theft Act, worth £307,000, and was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday.

He was originally paid as a private contractor at the privately-run jail, making up to £10,000 a month, the court heard.

But after an administrative error at another jail, the father-of-three began to be paid by the NHS, as well as by his private employers.

Having discovered a "weakness", the prosecution said, he repeated the trick at Altcourse Prison.

Between December 2006 and December 2008, Hudson received £333,000 in payments from the NHS and £277,000 from his private employer, Medacs.

Pauline Smith, North West Operational Fraud Manager for the CFS, said: "NHS fraud is completely unacceptable.

"Whilst the vast majority of NHS staff are honest, where fraud does occur the NHS Counter Fraud Service will investigate and press for strong sanctions against offenders.

"The sentence that John Hudson has received should act as a deterrent to others who might consider defrauding the NHS by abusing their positions of trust."

As well as his prison contract, Hudson also had his own NHS dental practice in Rochdale.

Solicitors have now been instructed to start civil court proceedings to recover up to £500,000 on behalf of the NHS.