An NHS manager defrauded the health service out of over £250,000 by awarding contracts to friends who overcharged for services – many of which they did not complete or were unnecessary.
Alan Hodge, 53, from Surrey, was jailed at Croydon Crown Court on December 9 after being found guilty of defrauding Epsom and St Helier University Hospital’s NHS Trust of hundreds and thousands of pounds.
At the sentencing, Judge Nicholas Ainley said: “Over part of the time whilst Alan Hodge was in charge and whilst his word was being taken as unchallengeable he was in fact swindling.”
“He was simply giving his friends these contracts so that these contracts could be dishonestly manipulated.”
Hodge was a renal technical department manager at Croydon University Hospital, Kingston Haemodialysis Unit and St Helier Hospital – he had responsibility for maintaining the dialysis equipment at the three sites.
His fraud was uncovered when he was suspended for an unconnected disciplinary incident in October 2013, which culminated in his termination from the NHS.
Following his suspension, the number of invoices billed to his renal unit significantly decreased – by up to 50 per cent. This led to NHS Protect carrying out an investigation in January 2014.
NHS Protect leads investigations into fraud, bribery and corruption.
Investigators flagged up concerns over 266 invoices for contracted work which was incomplete, not necessary or was heavily overpriced. This included invoices for the fitting of flooring at a dialysis patient’s home that was fitted by the patient’s own relative and for electrical and plumbing installation work at a prison that prison staff had carried out.
The findings of the NHS Protect investigation showed that these invoices were submitted by three subcontractors – Pierre Allen, 55, Stephen Thompson, 47 and Philip Jones, 50 – who were friends of Hodge. The invoices contained only a minimal description of the work carried out – making it more difficult for the Trust to audit.
The subcontractors received payments from the Trust between 2007 and 2013 – Mains Contractors, owned by Allen, was paid a total of £388,023.58. S J Thompson Plumbing, owned by Thompson, was paid a total of £118,045.69 and TWS (Southern) Ltd owned by Jones was paid a total of £43,609.00.
Hodge, nicknamed “Dodgy Hodgey” by co-workers, was handed a four-year jail sentence as ringleader of the fraud. Allen and Thompson were sentenced to three years and two years respectively. All were charged with fraud by abuse of position.
Philip Jones, the only one who pleaded guilty, received a 12-month suspended sentence and 250 hours of unpaid work.
Hodge’s partner was also involved in the fraud. Lisa Green, 49, was charged with money laundering and given a suspended sentence of six-months, alongside 100 hours of unpaid work.
The scammers reportedly used their money to indulge in a life of luxury at the expense of the NHS. Hodge took frequent holidays to Butlins and alongside Allen spent over £15,000 on Chelsea Football Club tickets. Allen held his 50th birthday party at the 200 acre Gatton Manor Golf club in Surrey – the cost of which amounted to over £6,000.
Sue Frith, Managing Director of NHS Protect said in a statement: “Painstaking, diligent work by NHS Protect fraud investigators has once again put a stop to precious NHS money being diverted into private pockets. It is very sad when trusted staff with valuable technical skills, sorely needed by the NHS and its patients, turn to crime.
“The public rightly demands that NHS workers are people of integrity as well as technical ability. NHS Protect welcomes any tip-offs where fraud is suspected and wherever appropriate, it will be investigated and prosecuted. We support the strongest sanctions to deter others from defrauding the NHS.”
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