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BBC NI's health correspondent Dot Kirby:
"The agency provided locums to hospitals in Northern Ireland."
 real 28k

Friday, 25 May, 2001, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Doctor jailed for massive fraud
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital lost thousands of pounds
A doctor has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of a fraud believed to have cost the NHS millions of pounds.

Dr Dimitri Padelis, of south London, who ran a locum agency, is believed to have made up to 4m, on top of the legitimate charges.

He had earlier been found guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading and three of false accounting between 1991 and 1995.

Dr Padelis, 45, ran a locum agency called Allcare which provided freelance doctors to hospitals across the UK - including Northern Ireland.


You are an educated man and a doctor who plundered the system

Judge Jeffrey Rucker
But he overcharged the hospitals who used his agency, by submitting inflated invoices.

Among the hardest hit was Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, which was targeted scores of times and lost more than 12,000 from the budget used to treat patients and cut waiting times.

Although Padelis, of Bradley Road, Norwood, south east London, repaid 348,000 to the agency's bank account, it is believed the agency could have earned between 2m and 4m in extra fees.

It is believed the final figure will never be known.

Breach

Sentencing Padelis, Judge Jeffrey Rucker: "You, seeing weakness in the accounts procedures of the trusts, chose to defraud that system out of greed for yourself and your family.

"You are an educated man and a doctor who plundered the system that first of all gave you employment as a doctor, and then as a businessman, running your agencies.

Dr Padelis at court
Dr Padelis at court
"To do that was a grotesque breach of trust."

Padelis claimed the overcharges resulted from errors by hospital administrators, doctors or his own staff.

He was ordered to pay 100,000 in costs and disqualified as a company director for five years, and faces being struck off by the General Medical Council.

The fraud was spotted by an auditor at Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor Wales.

A subsequent inquiry by the North Wales Fraud Squad developed into a national investigation.

Although all trusts in the UK could have fallen victim to the fraud, the investigation was limited to 77 out of the 458.

Claims

It was discovered that one in five of the invoices sent out by the agency were inflated with additional hours.

Duplicate bills were also sent out.

Padelis also repeated claims for hours worked, travel expenses and National Insurance contributions.

Padelis and his wife each held 50% of the company shares.


It is all money he is getting for nothing, it is money he was not entitled to

Anthony Leonard QC
The doctor prospered while running his agency, paying himself thousands of pounds in a director's salary and pension contributions.

He used headed notepaper and adverts in the British Medical Journal to paint an impressive picture of a well-established business, with offices in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow.

In reality all calls were diverted to London.

Anthony Leonard QC, prosecuting, told the court: "Padelis conducted a deliberate, widespread and determined fraud on trusts by submitting invoices for services which had not been provided to the hospitals, and for costs which had not been incurred by them.

"It is all money he is getting for nothing, it is money he was not entitled to."

The trial looked at the agency's dealings with just 12 trusts: Mid-Cheshire; North Devon; Royal Cornwall; Taunton and Somerset; Doncaster; Peterborough; Great Ormond Street; Walsgrave (Coventry); Royal Manchester Children's; Blackpool Victoria; Swansea; Gwynedd and the Royal Marsden.

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See also:

17 Apr 01 | Health
Doctor guilty of '4m NHS fraud'
09 Nov 00 | Health
Fines for NHS fraudsters
28 Dec 99 | Health
Prescription fraud costs NHS 54m
Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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