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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 19:54 GMT
NHS executive jailed for forgery
Philip Neal
Philip Neal was sacked as an NHS finance director
A former NHS executive from Essex has been jailed for 12 months for forgery.

Philip Neal was finance director of Mid Essex Health Trust but he used what was described as creative accounting to wipe out a huge budget deficit.

Jailing him at Chelmsford Crown Court, the judge said Neal "was not caught with his hand in the till" but had altered figures on financial records.

He used the sale of property and assets to exaggerate the profits made and was sacked.

The forgery happened when land and property, including redundant hospital sites, were put up for sale.

Trusts under pressure

Neal lied about the profits generated by these deals.

He made it look like the trust's debt of 10m had been turned into a surplus of 1m and he took the credit.

Prosecutors called this "creative accounting" and said it earned Neal a pay rise of 2,500.

Alan McGill, an NHS counter-fraud specialist, said the jail sentence would be a warning to others that fraud and corruption have no place in the health service.

Colleague Nigel Heath, called as a character witness, said many trusts were under pressure from the very highest level in the NHS to balance the books.

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