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July 18 2018

Recruitment agencies help catch NHS fraudster who nabbed £32k

A 53-years-old nurse has been found guilty of two counts of fraud by false representation whilst working at St. George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Tooting (London).

Whilst being signed off sick from her main role as a nurse on a neurosurgical ward at the hospital between August 2014 to May 2016, Coker took up roles with two nursing agencies, Pulse and Zentar.   However, suspicions were roused, sparking an investigation led by the Trust’s Counter Fraud Team. The NHS Local Counter Fraud Specialists (LCFS) team contacted the recruitment agencies, the Home Office and the police, and with the help of the matrons on the ward obtained Coker’s records.

After examining the records, it was confirmed that Coker worked through recruitment agencies whilst on sickness absence from her substantive nursing role. Following this, a disciplinary hearing took place in August 2016 and Coker was dismissed for gross misconduct, for working whilst off sick from her main role which goes against the trust’s policies and procedures.

In December 2016, Coker refused to respond to allegations that she had worked for two nursing agencies whilst she was sick from St George’s hospital.  The case was then referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). On 13 July 2018, Coker’s guilty pleas to two counts were accepted, and she was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.

Coker who defrauded the NHS out of £32,745 was been sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.  On passing the sentence, Judge Hunter commented: “The offences involved a long period of stealing from the NHS knowing the NHS was short of funds and knowing that when money was taken innocent people would suffer.”