A former NHS chief executive has today (Fri 10 Mar) received a suspended prison sentence after she admitted paying her husband more than £11,000 of public money for a graphic design project he never completed.
Exeter Crown Court heard Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, bypassed the proper procedures when she paid the money to her husband Stephen Vasco-Knight, 46.
Vasco-Knight was working for the Torbay and South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust when she was given a £10,000 bursary as a reward for outstanding work in 2012. The money was supposed to be used to develop her leadership skills or to help other staff within the NHS.
The following year her husband invoiced the NHS for £11,072 for designing a document called “Transform”. The design was never delivered but Vasco-Knight approved the invoice and chased her colleagues for swift payment.
When the discrepancy was spotted and the Vasco-Knights were questioned about the work they produced the missing document. It was later found to have been cut and pasted together from other organisations’ work.
Vasco-Knight and her husband both admitted one count of fraud part-way through their trial at Exeter Crown Court earlier this year. Today, Vasco-Knight was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. Her husband received 10 months’ imprisonment, also suspended for two years, and 150 hours of unpaid work.
Peter Davies, from the CPS, said:
“Paula Vasco-Knight abused her position of responsibility within the NHS when she awarded more than £11,000 of public money to her husband and failed to declare the personal interest.
“Faced with the evidence presented by the prosecution at trial both Mr and Mrs Vasco-Knight admitted what they had done and changed their pleas to guilty.”
The prosecution followed an investigation by NHS Protect.
Notes to Editors
· Paula Vasco-Knight and Stephen Vasco-Knight admitted one count of fraud each part-way through their trial at Exeter Crown Court in January 2017.
· Peter Davies is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the CPS Specialist Fraud Division.