Man 'banned' from using the NHS

By Jane Dreaper
Health correspondent, BBC News

image captionThe cost to the NHS runs to tens of thousands

A homeless man who became an expert at faking illness so he could stay in hospital has been given a criminal Asbo.

Counter-fraud experts say the fraud has cost the NHS tens of thousands of pounds.

Christopher Dearlove, 41, used more than 70 aliases to trick NHS staff into admitting him to hospital.

A judge at Bolton crown court has now banned Dearlove from using the NHS unless he is genuinely ill.

He knew which symptoms to report - and how to be classed as highly infectious so he could get his own room.

Dearlove targeted hospitals all over the UK in a deception which is thought to have begun 15 years ago.

Staff in Glasgow, Cambridge, south London, Rochdale and Grimsby were among those he tricked, to get accommodation and food.

Each time Dearlove was admitted to hospital, it cost an NHS trust between £400 and £1,000.

He often claimed to be a haemophiliac with Aids, and would feign chest pain, night sweats and weight loss.

But when blood tests and X-rays showed there was no cause for concern, staff began to realise he was a so-called "hospital hopper".

Officers at the NHS and Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (NHS CFSMS) issued all hospitals with CCTV pictures of Dearlove and a description of his distinctive tattoos, to help catch him.

The service's head, Richard Hampton, said: "The criminal Asbo is to prevent further unnecessary financial losses, and risks to the NHS and its patients."

If Dearlove breaks the terms of his restrictions, he will be jailed for up to five years.

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