latest health care news

07.02.17

Consultant radiologist pleads guilty to £24,000 NHS fraud

A consultant radiologist is due to be sentenced at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to defrauding the NHS of nearly £24,000.

John Coffey was a staff member at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS FT’s Royal Preston Hospital, responsible for reviewing and reporting on a variety of medical scans, before he was found to have performed ‘overtime’ work within his contracted working hours.

Following an investigation from local NHS counter-fraud specialists and the NHS’s national counter-fraud body NHS Protect, Coffey was suspended and then resigned from the trust before he pleaded guilty to a ‘rolled-up’ charge of fraud by false representation.                                                                          

“John Coffey abused his position of trust as a consultant radiologist to defraud the NHS of nearly £24,000. That much could have paid a nurse for a year,” said Sue Frith, managing director of NHS Protect.

“He has admitted the crime, and it would not be appropriate for NHS Protect to comment further before sentencing.”

Coffey committed the fraud after he agreed to study plain film scans from standard x-rays for £4 per film outside of his working hours in order to help his department clear a waiting list backlog.

However, Coffey was found to have repeatedly completed most of the work within his normal working hours before submitting the reports out-of-office hours after 5pm, effectively claiming an unearned bonus at the hospital’s expense.

Between autumn 2013 and autumn 2014, Coffey’s fraud bumped up his earnings by £23,916, even reviewing 100 plain film scans in one day to earn an extra £400.

Coffey was eventually caught when he could not offer a good reason for entering each x-ray patient’s electronic records during the working day. The defrauded amount has now been recovered in full.

“NHS Protect encourages anybody with a suspicion that fraud against the NHS could be taking place to report their concern,” Frith added.

“Health workers and the public can do so via the established channels of their Local Counter Fraud Specialist, or via our national Fraud and Corruption Reporting Line. Whether by telephone or online, these reports can be made anonymously.”

The value of fraud, bribery and corruption identified by NHS Protect and local counter-fraud specialists within the NHS was £6.5m last year.

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