Essex

Basildon Hospital fraudsters must return £650,000

Basildon Hospital Image copyright PA
Image caption The four people jailed for conspiracy to defraud worked only half their contracted hours at Basildon Hospital

Four health experts jailed for defrauding the NHS have been ordered by a court to pay back more than £650,000.

Martin Oliver, Ann Clements, John Mulholland, and Tom Cumberland were sentenced in September 2014.

They had billed the NHS for £1.1m for their firm's heart and lung services, but only worked half their contracted hours at Basildon Hospital, in Essex.

A judge has now ruled the NHS must be compensated by just over £519,000, with £168,000 returned to the hospital.

The convicted group's firm, London Perfusion Science Ltd, provided services to manage heart and lung machines during cardiac surgery between 2007 and 2011.

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The four, who all lived in the Limehouse area of London, failed to work 14,000 hours for which they were paid by the NHS.

Instead, during those hours, they earned an extra £700,000 for the company through their private work, largely at Hammersmith Hospital.

They tried to hide the proceeds of their fraud by setting up new bank accounts.

'Motivated by greed'

The order was made by Judge David Owen-Jones at a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Basildon Crown Court.

If they do not pay the money back within six months, Mulholland will be jailed for a further 21 months and the others for a further 18 months.

The investigation to recover the money was carried out by the anti-fraud body NHS Protect.

Its spokesman Gavin Heaton said: "At this time funds in the NHS are very short and this amount of money could have gone on healthcare so it's important that we recover as much as possible."

The four were convicted of conspiracy to defraud in August 2014.

Mulholland was jailed for three years and Oliver, Clements and Cumberland were each jailed for two years.

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