NHS manager and accomplices jailed in wake of £3.5 million fraud and money laundering

A senior NHS manager and three accomplices found guilty of money laundering and fraud offences after a £3.5 million NHS fraud have been sentenced at Leeds Crown Court for a total of nine years and eight months. This follows a lengthy investigation led by the police service and supported by NHS Protect as well as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Neil Wood, 41, of Heydon Close, Meanwood in Leeds pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. Wood was sentenced to four years and eight months’ imprisonment.

Lisa Wood, 40, also of Heydon Close, Meanwood in Leeds pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years.

Huw Grove, 43, of Field Farm Close, Bristol was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

Terry Dixon, 46, of New Dixton Road in Monmouth was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position. He has been sentenced to one year behind bars.

The investigation was launched into the £3.5 million loss to Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds Community Healthcare Trust and NHS England in March 2014.

Neil Wood was a senior manager at the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust until March 2013. He also worked with the Leeds Community Healthcare Trust before moving to NHS England.

Wood was responsible for the awarding of training contracts and awarded the majority of these to a company called The Learning Grove, which was run by his friend Huw Grove. These contracts totalled more than £3 million over a seven-year period. During this time, a total of £1.8 million was transferred from The Learning Grove to LW Learning Ltd, a company registered in Neil Wood’s wife Lisa Wood’s name.

The investigation revealed “brazen messages” between Neil Wood and Huw Grove in which they discussed transferring money between accounts and what they could charge the NHS for, including sporting events, trips to London and dinners in expensive restaurants.

After taking up his position with NHS England, further monies authorised by Neil Wood were paid to The Learning Grove. During this time, Neil Wood was able to award a contract worth £231,495 to a company called Multi Health Systems in Canada. This work was subcontracted back to the UK to be undertaken by a close relative of Terry Dixon.

Dixon was a contact of Neil Wood, and messages between the two revealed how Dixon would keep £18,000 as an ‘agent fee’ before the rest of the money was transferred by him to LW Learning Ltd.

Referral from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

The Police North East Regional Asset Recovery Team began the investigation after a referral was made to them by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. In conjunction with the police service, NHS Protect anti-fraud specialists interviewed Neil and Lisa Wood after they were arrested in June 2014.

NHS Protect’s Forensic Computing Unit undertook extensive analysis of the computer equipment seized in order to help prove the fraud.

Sue Frith, managing director at NHS Protect, commented: “This successful result of a joint operation involving the Police North East Regional Asset Recovery Team, HMRC and NHS Protect shows how well a multi-agency approach can work in tackling fraud. These criminals boasted about how much money they could steal from the NHS with not a thought given to the potential consequences for patients. Going forward, NHS Protect is advising the Trust on measures to prevent fraud.”

Simon Higginbotham, specialist fraud lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service, added: “Neil Wood used his position to siphon off millions of pounds from the NHS for his own benefit. He outsourced services which could have been undertaken in-house so that his wife, friends and contacts received vast sums of money to which they were not entitled. More often than not, Neil Wood received a 50% cut. In total, over £3 million was fraudulently spent in this way, and Neil Wood received over half of that amount of money.”

Simon Rothwell, 51, of Hall Close, Bramhope in Leeds was sentenced at an earlier hearing in October and ordered to pay a £5,000 fine after being found guilty of failing to disclose a money laundering offence. He acted as the accountant for the Woods.

*The value of fraud, bribery and corruption identified by NHS Protect and Local Counter Fraud Specialists (LCFS) following the successful conclusion of investigations in 2014-2015 was £11.9 million. The total value of money recovered by NHS Protect and LCFS was £2.4 million

**As of 31 March 2015, NHS Protect was investigating allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption with a potential value of £20 million

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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