A temporary senior commissioner who defrauded NHS Bromley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of nearly £145,000 has been jailed for two years and three months.
Noel Morrow (47) of East Molesey, Surrey, was convicted of Fraud by Abuse of Position, contrary to Section 3 of the Fraud Act 2006 at Croydon Crown Court on October 13. The sentencing judge took account of the fact that he has already paid back £93,681 to his former employer, money which can now be spent treating NHS patients.
Local counter fraud specialist (LCFS) Melanie Alflatt, the lead investigator, said: “We are pleased to reach a positive conclusion to this investigation, which benefited from close work with the CCG as well as the national level support of NHS Protect and its specialist financial investigations team. It demonstrates to others who might try to defraud the NHS that they are likely to get caught and face severe consequences if they do.”
Morrow, who was employed at Bromley CCG from June 2012 to April 2014, was contracted via an agency, Timothy James Consulting, which played no part in his crimes. As a senior commissioner he was responsible for the approval and management of funding for mental health ‘cost per case’ care packages for people with learning disabilities.
The investigation established that all of the invoices from Choice and Independence Care Solutions Ltd and Blue Gale Ltd were for services that were never delivered, and that £144,986.60 in payments from Bromley CCG were paid into a bank account owned by Morrow.
The investigation began after Bromley CCG identified a potential fraud through its monthly financial reporting controls. They notified the LCFS of a concern about Morrow on May 6, 2014. The finance department had spotted a suspicious invoice from Choice and Independence Care Solutions Ltd and conducted further investigations, establishing that the company was registered to Morrow’s home address and a former address. The invoice was waiting for payment, and yet related to a patient whom Morrow had previously advised them was already discharged and therefore not incurring these costs.
The investigation uncovered links between Morrow and a second company, Blue Gale Ltd, that was also invoicing the CCG for delivery of care packages. Morrow had a sign off limit of £10,000 and all of the invoices from these two companies were just under that amount, so Morrow could authorise them himself.
A spokesperson for the CCG said: “Morrow was arrested and charged as soon as sufficient evidence was available. Advised by the Local Counter Fraud Specialist, we immediately implemented further controls to prevent such frauds happening in the future.”
NHS Protect’s Financial Investigation team were contacted by the LCFS to conduct a money laundering investigation. They found that all of the money obtained through fraudulent means had been used by the defendant to fund a comfortable lifestyle.
Sue Frith, managing director of NHS Protect, said: “In this case a senior commissioner, no less, used his position of power and trust to exploit a vulnerable patient group and divert money meant for their care to his own pocket. But we have recovered £93,000 of that. This is the second major recovery of defrauded NHS money in the last week, showing what can be achieved when local and national NHS bodies work together to tackle fraud.”