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| Referencing and Verification Services
January 24, 2020
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Oxford NHS hospital IT boss who lied about degree sentenced

A former NHS boss who lied about having a degree has been given a suspended prison sentence.

As reported by the BBC, Peter Knight, 53, of Blagrove Road, Teddington, worked at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from August 2016 until September 2018.

He pleaded guilty to fraud and was handed two years in jail, suspended for two years, at Oxford Crown Court.

The court heard how Knight, who was paid a £130,000 a year salary, claimed he had a Classics degree on his CV.

The former chief information and digital officer was exposed after an anonymous tip off in May 2018 and later resigned after the trust began an investigation.

In a press release issued on his appointment in 2016, the trust said Knight had been employed to "shape its ambition to become one of the foremost healthcare organisations in the UK and globally".

It said Knight was responsible for "developing and delivering a comprehensive information technology strategy".

Chief executive Dr Bruno Holthof said in the release that Knight brought a "wealth of experience and expertise" to the role.

In a statement following the sentencing the trust said Knight's role was "non-clinical and he had no direct contact with patients".

It added: "The trust has subsequently strengthened its recruitment process to ensure that it is not possible to avoid confirming the academic qualifications of applicants prior to appointment.

"The trust also verifies key qualifications with the university, professional body or other institution which awarded the qualification."

A proceeds of crime hearing into his gains of more £250,000 will be heard in May.

Knight had previously been a deputy director at the Department for Health and Social Care before he arrived in Oxford.

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| Services
January 21, 2020
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Disclosure Scotland praises Verifile for low error rate

Verifile has been told by Disclosure Scotland (DS) that we have a very low error rate when processing criminal record checks.

The findings came during an audit by DS of their top 20 customers by volume in early January 2020.

While DS didn’t reveal the exact figure for our error rate, or what the average error rate is among their top customers, they say our error rate is much lower than most.

This is great news and proves that Verifile’s investments in technology and processes are doing a great job for our clients, ensuring quicker turnaround times and better-quality reports.

The team processing these checks consistently review applications and query discrepancies so that only the most accurate information possible is sent to Disclosure Scotland.

This in turn leaves very little for Disclosure Scotland to query. 

Thanks to the sophisticated technology we have built, high-quality staff training and their attention to detail, application process time is reduced, and the risk of incorrect criminal certificates being issued is minimised.

In addition to Disclosure Scotland, Verifile is also a registered Umbrella Body of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and Access Northern Ireland​. Similarly we also provide access to criminal records globally.

This entitles us to countersign disclosure applications on behalf of employers, universities, the voluntary sector and other organisations which require access to criminal records across the United Kingdom.

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| Industry
January 17, 2020
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Lewisham and Greenwich Trust scrutinised over sharing patients' data with Experian

A decision by Lewisham and Greenwich Trust to hand over patients’ personal data to a credit reference firm was slammed by committee members in Lewisham on January 15.

Before the activity was exposed by the Health Service Journal, the trust had been using Experian to run UK checks for patients’ credit footprints to see if they were eligible for free treatment. According to a report by the BBC's Local Democracy Reporter attached to Newsshopper.

The NHS provides free healthcare to anyone who is a legal resident of the UK but is required by law to charge migrants or “patients who are not ordinarily residents in the UK” since a coalition decision in 2015 to tackle ‘health tourism’. 

If no digital footprint was found the trust would do further checks and in certain cases go onto to issue charges. 

The information shared with Experian included a person’s name, address, date of birth, NHS number, email and phone number, and was run on every patient referred to the trust.  

But people were unaware their data was being shared with the third party, sparking a backlash that has led to the trust setting up an independent enquiry and cutting ties with Experian.  

In a statement, the trust stressed that: “Experian do not carry out credit checks on Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust’s patients.  

“No credit footprint is left on anyone’s credit report as a result of this process.” 

Although the trust had a notice on its website about sharing some information with non-NHS organisations, the issue the enquiry will investigate is whether patients were adequately notified about it.  

The external review will look at all data sharing processes that are in place at the trust.  

Jim Lusby, director of integrated care and development at Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, spoke to the healthier communities select committee about the steps that had been taken in the wake of the scandal.  

He said the reason the trust took the decision to check everyone was to do it in a “non-discriminatory” way.  

“In hindsight it was not the right choice […] in all honesty I struggle to defend the logic of this,” he told the committee. 

He said the trust was “complying fully” with the investigation.

But councillors refused to let the trust off lightly, with one saying what it did was akin to “spying”.  

The tension between Lewisham being a sanctuary borough and migrant charges was also raised at the meeting.  

A representative of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign described the move to charge migrants as “nasty, horrible”. 

She told the committee: “At the heart of this issue is a real hostility towards migrants, particularly undocumented migrants who are deemed to have no right to be here but are escaping war or economic troubles. 

“As a sanctuary borough we would encourage Lewisham and Greenwich Trust to put compassion, safeguarding, clinical priorities and professional standards at the forefront rather than an unbending interpretation of the law.” 

The representative, also a nurse, stressed the blame was not on the trust, as “it’s a Government directive”, but urged it to be aware of “young, vulnerable pregnant women” who are reluctant to seek care for fear of being charged.  

A recent Government report showed that three pregnant women died as a result of delays in seeking care, despite all three being eligible for free treatment. 

“They’re scared and they don’t come back. That’s two lives at risk. 

“As a pregnant woman you can have no symptoms and be in a life-threatening situation within minutes. Not coming back for care is really dangerous,” the campaign rep told the committee.  

It also emerged debts would follow patients around even if they became legal in the country.  

Chair Councillor John Muldoon said he was “disappointed” the Chief Executive did not come to the committee meeting.  

He said: “Bearing in mind that we are a sanctuary borough we are concerned about the impact that this has on our status, our political status as a sanctuary borough.  

“The committee was concerned to learn about the automatic testing of those attending Lewisham and Greenwich Trust by using the Experian database for their economic activity. 

“The committee disputes that that is a useful metric in assessing ordinary residence and remains unconvinced that adequate notification was given to patients.  

“The committee acknowledges the independendent enquiry and urges the independent enquiry to take evidence from witnesses from all stakeholder groups. 

“I am expecting a report back, possibly by the chief executive. The committee wishes to be informed as to current practice in assessing ordinary residence.” 

The issues raised have been referred to mayor and cabinet.

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