NHS Finance

09.04.19

Woman jailed after trying to defraud the NHS for more than £2m

A woman who tried to sue the NHS for £2.3m in compensation for a botched surgery which she claimed left her in constant pain has been jailed.

Lesley Maria Elder from Dorset said the severe pain following a vaginal mesh operation had rendered her unable to work or do routine tasks, effectively leaving her disabled.

She sued the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust where she underwent the surgery in 2010 for £2.5m.

But suspicions were raised after Elder was spotted at a hen party in Ibiza and she was then prosecuted by the hospital after surveillance revealed she had exaggerated the impact of the surgery and “persistently made false statements.”

Judge Karen Walden-Smith found she had “grossly, dishonestly and repeatedly” exaggerated her symptoms and jailed her for five months for contempt of court.

The High Court heard Elder had suffered a genuine injury as a result of the surgery, which it later turned out she had not needed, and she claimed to be “isolated and dependent on others for routine tasks.”

But photos of her in Ibiza appeared on Facebook and surveillance showed she was able to go shopping and walk her dog regularly.

Walden-Smith stated: “This was a deliberate and persistent making of false statements for the purpose of falsely recovering significant monies from a publicly-funded body.

“This was an attempt to effectively defraud the NHS of a sum of more than £2m – public funds which are desperately needed for frontline services.”

The NHS trust admitted liability for the surgery but disputed the amount she had claimed and a county court judge ruled in 2017 that she was entitled to just £120,000.

Image credit - Joe Giddens/PA Archive/PA Images

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