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Sunday, 1 April 2012

NHS boss lived luxury lifestyle by claiming to care for dead patients


AN EX-NHS manager who funded her luxury lifestyle by charging for non-existent care for dead patients has been jailed for fraud. Maree Wharton, 44, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, admitted abusing her position as commissioning manager at NHS Barnet to steal more than £250,000, £120,000 of which she proceeded to spend on a luxury holiday to Marbella and private boxes at Arsenal Football Club’s Emirates Stadium. She was handed a two-year sentence after pleading guilty at Wood Green Crown Court last Wednesday. The court heard that between April 2009 and June 2011 Wharton, together with an alleged accomplice, falsely created and submitted invoices for non-existent continuing health care to seven patients. Five of the patients had died, and the remaining two were receiving care from another source. She then used her line manager’s password to enable her to secure regular monthly payments to Medstar Services. and another organisation. Eventually staff became suspicious, and the payments were investigated by the counter fraud service, NHS Protect. Evidence was then handed to Barnet police, which began a criminal enquiry before arresting Wharton, who declined to answer any questions put to her about the offence. Detective Inspector Jamie Stevenson, of Barnet CID, said: “Wharton’s action meant that money that was set aside to help those in genuine need was instead used to fund luxuries for herself. “The criminal misuse of public money is always a serious crime, but in this case her betrayal of trust, the extended and deliberate nature of the offence and the fact that this money was intended to assist vulnerable families means that this was particularly unpleasant crime.”

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