NHS Senior Commissioner jailed for fraud following NHS Protect investigation

Following a locally-led fraud investigation supported by NHS Protect, a temporary senior commissioner who defrauded the NHS Bromley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of nearly £145,000 has been jailed for two years and three months following a hearing at Croydon Crown Court on Thursday 13 October.

Noel Morrow of Rivermead, East Molesey in Surrey was convicted of Fraud by Abuse of Position, contrary to Section 3 of the Fraud Act 2006. The sentencing Judge took account of the fact that Morrow has already paid back £93,681 to his former employer: money which can now be spent on treating NHS patients.

Local Counter Fraud Specialist (LCFS) Melanie Alflatt, the lead investigator, said: “We’re pleased to reach a positive conclusion to this investigation, which benefited from close work with the Clinical Commissioning Group 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’re likely to be caught and face severe consequences for their actions.”

47 year-old Morrow, who was employed at Bromley CCG from June 2012 to April 2014, was contracted via an agency, namely Timothy James Consulting (which played no part in his crimes). As a senior commissioner, Morrow was responsible for the approval and management of funding for mental health ‘cost per case’ care packages for those patients with learning difficulties.

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 actually owned by Morrow.

Monthly financial reporting controls

The investigation began after Bromley CCG identified a potential fraud through its monthly financial reporting controls and notified the LCFS of a concern about Morrow on 6 May 2014 in respect of invoices for its Mental Health and Learning Disability Services. 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. All of the invoices from these two companies were just under that amount, so Morrow could authorise them himself.

A spokesperson for the CCG confirmed: “Morrow was arrested and charged as soon as sufficient evidence was available. Advised by the LCFS, we implemented further controls to prevent such frauds happening in the future.”

NHS Protect’s financial investigation team members 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, commented: “NHS Protect tackles fraud without fear or favour and at whatever level it occurs. 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 into his own pocket. Thankfully, we’ve recovered £93,000 of that money. 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 the issue.”

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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