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NHS agency boss jailed for fraud

A senior NHS agency manager from Maidenhead has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for fraud after she received a kickback of more than &pound50,000 stolen from the public purse.

Julie Angrish, the head of national recruitment at NHS Professionals Ltd (NHSP), used a company run by her sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Michael Torpey, to falsify invoices for an employee, defrauding the NHS out of a total of &pound132,560.

The 55-year-old, who pleaded guilty to the offence of fraud, then received payment of &pound51,480 from her sister and brother-in-law as a kickback.

Sentencing her at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Richard Parkes QC, told Angrish: "This is a very serious case of fraud made worse by the fact that public money is involved particularly public money which is in such short supply between 2008 and 2012 and especially so in the context of the NHS which we all know consumes a great deal of public money and which is being forced to make constant savings for efficiency.

"At the time it was so stretched you were stealing substantial sums of money from it." He added: "You abused your position of power and responsibility."

Edmund Vickers, prosecuting, told the court that Angrish was appointed as head of recruitment at NHSP in 2005 and worked there until she was dismissed in 2012 when the fraud was uncovered.

He said, "She was appointed the national head of recruitment for NHSP which is the national body for supplying temporary professional staff to the NHS which at any one time had 50,000 to 60,000 people on their books in employment with the NHS.

"She was responsible for delivery of recruitment services and strategic direction of NHSP, her responsibility included promotion of best practice policy and efficiency.

"Part of the company's aim was to reduce cost to the NHS and to increase efficiency."

He explained that Angrish, of Harcourt Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, interviewed and appointed a member of staff who she then asked to send her invoices to her sister and brother-in-law's management PR consultancy company, At Liberty Ltd, which then invoiced Watford-based NHSP for this work plus 68 days of extra work that was not actually carried out.

Vickers said, "Julie Angrish should not have used the services of At Liberty, there was a clear conflict of interest which she didn't declare.

"At Liberty was not a vetted, approved employment agency or indeed an employment agency. At Liberty submitted inflated fee claims and claims for work that was not done and all this was authorised by the defendant herself."

Peter Lownds, defending, said that Angrish was previously of good character and had previously worked as a cancer nurse and worked with victims of the Gulf War in the early 1990s.

He said that she had got into financial difficulties after she had made a loan of &pound20,000 to her brother Paul for his company which then collapsed, losing her money.

He added, "Her reputation is shredded, destroyed by this."

The court heard that the prosecution offered no evidence for a charge of conspiracy to defraud faced by Mr and Mrs Torpey along with Angrish.

The court was also told that proceedings were under way to recoup compensation from Angrish.

Andrew Preston, MD of de Poel HealthCare, said, "The recent case involving significant fraud to the NHS via phantom recruitment agency fees demonstrates, yet again, the need to take a robust approach to visibility and control in the recruitment supply chain.

“It should be mandatory that any agencies, particularly those supplying professionals to our Public Sector, are rigorously audited in order to ensure all is as it should be, both in terms of compliance and financial proprietary.

“At de Poel HealthCare we keep our clients protected by doing just that, ensuring that all those involved in the provision and management of temporary, contract and interim workers are fully cognisant and diligent in the application of these governing principles”

The NHSP website states, "NHS Professionals (NHSP) is the leading provider of managed flexible worker services to the NHS. We have approximately 40,000 general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, administrative and other healthcare professionals signed up to our bank. We serve Acute, Mental Health, Social Enterprise and other NHS Trusts across England."

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