Gloucestershire Nursing Assistant guilty of defrauding the NHS
Former Nursing Assistant, Keira LOWE was today (1st May 2013) sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court to 3 months’ imprisonment suspended for 2 years after she pleaded guilty of defrauding the NHS by claiming for 180 shifts she had not worked.
Ms Lowe, who regularly worked as a ‘bank’ (temporary) Nursing Assistant for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust until June 2012, answered to two charges of False Accounting.
A staff member blew the whistle with concerns of the accuracy of Ms Lowe’s timesheet in June last year and an investigation followed, led by the Gloucestershire NHS Counter Fraud Service.
The investigation comprised a review of all timesheets submitted for payment by Ms Lowe between April 2010 and June 2012. These contained 281 shifts she claimed to have worked on various wards at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Ms Lowe had been paid for all but three of these shifts.
Ms Lowe was found guilty of forging the signatures of genuine nursing staff and fabricating names of others, using counterfeit signatures. Over a period of two years, of the 281 shifts Ms Lowe had claimed to have worked, 180 were falsified. Ms Lowe submitted timesheets for 17 shifts which were found to have been counter-signed by a Staff Nurse who had been on maternity leave during the entire period. A further seven shifts purported to have been counter signed by a Staff Nurse who had transferred to another hospital and Ms Lowe also created counterfeit signatures of bogus nursing staff.
As a result of Ms Lowe’s dishonest actions, she received financial reimbursement for the fraudulent shifts totalling £20,984.63. However, this figure would have been greater had it not been for the intervention of the NHS Local Counter Fraud Service.
Ms Lowe was interviewed at Gloucester Police Station on 17th July 2012 but offered no comment to any of the questions asked.
NHS Counter Fraud Specialist Lee Sheridan, said:
“Ms Lowe showed contempt for her hardworking colleagues and the patients of the hospital. She has not only taken valuable NHS resources, every penny of which should contribute to the care of patients, but she has also insulted her profession.
“Ms Lowe has exploited a service funded by the taxpayer and has lined her pockets with public money that should have been used to help Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provide care for patients. This is completely unacceptable and we hope the conviction will warn potential fraudsters that we will not tolerate the loss of valuable NHS resources for the personal gain of a dishonest minority.”
Sallie Cheung, NHS Counter Fraud Specialist, praised the actions of the whistle blower, stating: “ Both the Trust and the local Counter Fraud Service depend on the honest majority reporting concerns, no matter how small they may seem at the time. Ms Lowe worked in a position of trust. Bank staff move between wards and are trusted to fit in during times when wards are short-staffed. They deal with vulnerable patients. Without the help of whistleblowers frauds such as this could go undetected.
“The Gloucestershire NHS Counter Fraud Service is working with all health bodies to protect against fraud and to make it even harder for fraudsters to strip the NHS of its essential assets.”