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Independents' Day

Practice manager jailed for £70,000 surgery theft

By Gareth Iacobucci

A practice manager has been sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment after being found guilty of stealing £70,000 from his employers.

Richard Matthews, 52, former manager of Rosedean Surgery in Liskeard, Cornwall, was charged with one count of theft between 2003 and September 2007.

The decision at Truro Crown Court was taken after an investigation supported by the NHS Counter Fraud Service.

Mr Matthews pleaded guilty to theft on 28th January 2009, but disputed the total amount he had stolen.

A confiscation order was made that he must pay back £48,000 to the practice.

The offences were uncovered after a GP took over the dispensing practise's financial records and noticed substantial funds missing, mostly recorded by Matthews under ‘petty cash'.

Mr Matthews was arrested by Devon and Cornwall Police in September 2007, who subsequently launched an investigation with the NHS Counter Fraud Service.

Debbie Lloyd, South West operational fraud manager, NHS Counter Fraud Service, said: ‘It seems there were no direct losses to the NHS, fortunately, but Matthews was a serious drain on the practice's own funds. This outcome is a lesson to others who might think of exploiting a position of trust in a close-knit community. They are likely to be caught and will ruin their reputation and career.'

Sally May, director of finance at NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust, said: ‘This conviction sends a clear message that fraud will not be tolerated. NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly continues to raise fraud awareness across the local health community through our Local Counter Fraud Service.'

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