Glasgow & West Scotland

Hospital worker Daniel Dreghorn jailed for £1.3m theft

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Media captionDaniel Dreghorn and hospital equipment similar to that which he stole

A hospital worker who stole £1.3m of medical equipment and sold it for just £70,000 has been jailed for four years.

Daniel Dreghorn, 39, took the haul over a two-year period while working in the decontamination unit at Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine.

He then sold the paediatric telescopes and cystoscopes on to wholesalers in the UK, USA and Hong Kong.

Dreghorn admitted theft. At the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lord Turnbull said he had shown "callous" behaviour.

Jailing Dreghorn, Lord Turnbull told him: "You pleaded guilty to the theft of a vast quantity of equipment purchased by the taxpayer for the common good.

"You denied to vulnerable patients this vital equipment. You showed a wholly callous level of indifference."

The judge added that the thefts had affected those "requiring urgent medical care".

Image caption Dreghorn worked at Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine

Dreghorn was employed as a supervisor at the Central Decontamination Unit, which sterilises all medical devices for theatres and clinics within the health board's area.

The court heard how each item had a unique identification number, which allowed it to be tracked around the hospital system.

Between October 2012 and July 2014 Dreghorn managed to steal 136 pieces of medical equipment.

The crime only came to light when a patient complained to NHS Ayrshire and Arran about an operation being cancelled.

Stock-take

A stock-take was carried out and it revealed a large quantity of equipment, worth £1.28m, was missing.

It was also discovered trays carrying the items had been scanned back in after use but not the equipment.

Records showed Dreghorn was the supervisor on duty at those times.

When arrested, he admitted he had sold the goods to companies in Hong Kong and the USA.

Dreghorn said he had £1,000 remaining in a PayPal account but that the rest had been spent.

'Shameful crimes'

The court was told that Dreghorn stole the equipment prior to sterilisation, which posed a serious health risk if they were not cleaned.

Following sentence, Fraser Paterson from NHS Scotland Counter Fraud Services described Dreghorn's offences as "shameful".

"This sort of wrongdoing not only takes vital money out of the NHS in an economically challenging climate, it also impacts on patients, some of whom desperately need the treatment and care that this money should be providing," he said.

Derek Lindsay, director of finance at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said the health board had "tightened physical controls" and its computerised tracking system to prevent repeat offences.

He said: "Although 134 theatre instruments were taken, most were old and did not require to be replaced. However, around 15 have been replaced at a cost of £196,000."

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