Covid: Birmingham NHS worker stole dead patient's bank card to buy snacks

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image copyrightWest Midlands Police
image captionAyesha Basharat took the 83-year-old woman's bank card and used it 17 minutes after she had been pronounced dead, detectives said

A healthcare assistant on a Covid ward who police said stole a dead patient's bank card to buy crisps and sweets has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Ayesha Basharat took the 83-year-old woman's card after she died on 24 January at Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, West Midlands Police said.

She used the card 17 minutes after the time of death had been recorded, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

Basharat, 23, previously admitted theft and fraud by false representation.

She used the card to make six purchases of £1 each on the hospital's vending machine using the contactless pad, police said.

image copyrightWest Midlands Police
image captionBasharat used the bank card to buy snacks at a vending machine in the hospital, police said

Basharat made a similar purchase later in the day and tried again twice when she returned to work on 28 January.

But the force said the card had been cancelled by then and she was arrested during her shift with the card still in her possession.

Officers said she claimed to have found it and confused it with her own card, but they were different colours and she ignored hospital rules around patient lost property.

Basharat, of Farm Road, Birmingham, was given two concurrent jail terms of five months each, suspended for 18 months.

Det Con Andrew Snowdon described the theft as an "abhorrent breach of trust" which had distressed the victim's family.

"They were having to come to terms with the death of a loved one from Covid when they found the bank card missing," he said.

Heartlands Hospital is run by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and a spokesman said Basharat had been immediately suspended.

He offered sympathies and apologies to the patient's family, described the incident as "disgraceful" and said she would face disciplinary proceedings.

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