News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Doctor convicted of £4m fraud against NHS

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 28 April 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1015
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    A doctor who ran a locum agency for medical staff faces a jail sentence for what is thought to be the biggest singlehanded fraud carried out against the NHS. Dimitri Padelis, aged 45, will be sentenced next month for a swindle that police believe may have netted him as much as £4m ($5.6m) from bogus invoices, overcharging, and inflated expenses claims.

    The three year police investigation involved the whole of the NHS, but only 77 trusts were investigated in detail, and specimen charges were brought in relation to only 12, totalling £348 000, to make the trial manageable. Dr Padelis, who was born and trained as a doctor in Greece, operated his company Allcare from his home in the London suburb of South Norwood.

    The company advertised in the BMJ and supplied staff to hospitals throughout the United Kingdom. Headed notepaper and advertisements suggested that it had offices in several cities, but calls were routed through to Dr Padelis's home. He was able to get away with the fraud for years because he inflated each invoice by only a small amount. He banked on lax accounting procedures in the NHS not to flag up that bills had been sent out twice.

    The scam was eventually detected by an audit manager at Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor, Wales, who noticed a series of payments for the same amount to Allcare. Anthony Leonard QC, prosecuting, told the court: “But for a chance discovery, goodness knows how long it could have run.” Dr Padelis was convicted last week of false accounting and fraudulent trading between 1991 and 1995, after a retrial at Southwark crown court in London. Last year a jury failed to reach a verdict after a 10 week trial.

    After the verdict, Jim Gee, head of the NHS directorate of counter fraud services, said: “Fraud against the NHS is not a victimless crime, but one that is draining the lifeblood from necessary treatment for patients. The more we can protect public money, the easier it will be to keep the public healthy and make society a better place. Every pound lost to fraud is a pound not spent on public care. The public has a right to expect that the NHS is protected.”

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