Three men and one woman were convicted today at Basildon Crown Court for one count each of conspiracy to defraud.
John Mulholland (aged 41), Ann Clements (age 51), Tom Cumberland (aged 42) and Martin Oliver (aged 37), were directors of a private company called London Perfusion Science Limited (LPS). The group were employed at Basildon Hospital by Basildon and Thurrock University NHS Foundation Trust from July 2007 when a new Cardio Thoracic Centre opened. The case followed an investigation by NHS Protect.
Clinical perfusionists are a specialist area of support for heart and lung bypass operations. John Mulholland, who is an expert in this area, organised a team to work full-time for Basildon NHS Trust. In fact, the available work for Basildon NHS Trust was not sufficient to support all these full-time jobs and, as a result, Mulholland was able to deploy the full-time Basildon employees to work for the private company, London Perfusion Science Limited (LPS), operated by him and his co-conspirators. Whilst the perfusionist staff were being paid full-time salaries by Basildon NHS Trust, they were only working about 55% of their contracted hours and the company was raking in profits elsewhere.
Between 2007 and 2011 Basildon Hospital paid salaries for around 14,000 hours not actually completed on behalf of the Basildon NHS Trust, which equates to a salary overpayment of around £420,000. These hours were then used to conduct private work at other hospitals, earning an additional £700,000 for the company.
Andrew Penhale, Deputy Head of Fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said:
“Unlike other private health work, which is legitimately undertaken by senior health professionals with the full knowledge of the NHS, this was fraud, pure and simple.
“John Mulholland and his co-defendants took advantage of their specialist role to systematically defraud Basildon NHS Trust, for their own dishonest enrichment. Their e-mails revealed that they did so with cynical disregard for the loss to the National Health Service and the public purse.
“These defendants held respected roles in their profession and exploited the trust and responsibility given to them to dishonestly make money through sheer greed. They have now been brought to justice.”
Background: Two further individuals were acquitted in the trial: Gemma Deer (nee Yarham) (aged 32) and Chris Morris (aged 31).