England

Lesley Elder jailed over false £2.5m NHS claim

George Eliot Hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption Elder sued the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, where she underwent the surgery in 2010

A woman who tried to cheat the NHS out of more than £2m by exaggerating injuries from botched surgery has been jailed after she was spotted at a hen party in Ibiza.

Lesley Elder, 50, from Poole, Dorset, claimed she was left in constant pain after a vaginal mesh operation.

She sued the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, where she underwent the surgery in 2010, for £2.5m.

Elder was jailed for five months at the High Court for contempt of court.

The court heard Elder suffered a genuine injury as a result of the surgery, which it later transpired was not necessary because she had been misdiagnosed.

Judge Karen Walden-Smith found she had "grossly, dishonestly and repeatedly" exaggerated her symptoms after photographs appeared on Facebook of her at her daughter's hen party in the Spanish resort.

'Deliberate and persistent'

She had claimed to be "isolated and dependent on others for routine tasks", but undercover surveillance showed she was able to go shopping and to walk her dog regularly, without the aid of a walking stick.

The NHS trust admitted liability but disputed the amount she claimed, and a judge at a county court in 2017 ruled she was entitled to just £120,000.

It brought committal proceedings against her at the High Court over the lies she had told during the county court case.

Passing sentence at the High Court, Judge Walden-Smith said: "This was a deliberate and persistent making of false statements for the purpose of falsely recovering significant monies from a publicly funded body."

The sentencing was delayed after Elder appeared to take a number of pills shortly before the judge came into court.

She was taken to hospital and the hearing went ahead in her absence.

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