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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Nurse jailed for NHS fraud
Rhian Slaymaker
Slaymaker falsified time sheets over three years, the court heard
A senior nurse who stole nearly £36,000 from the NHS to fund exotic holidays overseas has been jailed for nine months.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how Rhian Slaymaker, 32, forged signatures on time sheets used for bank nurses to fund her lifestyle.

She did it because she "got away with it" and later it became a habit.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall described Slaymaker's crime as "devious, methodical, sophisticated and persistent".

The court heard that the nurse, from Grangetown, Cardiff, devised the overtime fiddle while working as a staff nurse at Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust.

She used the cash to go on foreign holidays - including to Australia, Hawaii and Mexico - and put the rest of the cash towards buying a £60,000 house and a car.

This was a long-lasting, determined and significant abuse of trust which led to the loss to the health service of nearly £36,000, which you threw away
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall

Between August 2000 and October 2003 she submitted 192 false time sheets claiming a total of £35,91.89, Nicola Harris, prosecuting, told the court.

An inquiry was launched when a "significant deficiency" in the bank nurse budget at a unit in Barry, where Slaymaker worked, came to light.

The nurse's manager saw she had made claims but knew that she had not worked an extra shift for at least a year, said Miss Harris.

Later, forged signatures, including that of the manager, were found on time sheets and verification sheets which accompanied them, the court was told.

Slaymaker had used made up names and even that of a friend wrongly spelt.

She had earlier admitted nine counts of false accounting and asked for 169 further offences to be taken into consideration.

Defending, Peter Heyward said Slaymaker's crime was out of character and she was "horrified" at what she had done.

The court had heard how Slaymaker had also told her ex-fiancé that an ex-partner, also a nurse, had died of a brain tumour. But he had, in fact, recovered.

Ms Slaymaker betrayed her employers and shamed her profession
Graham Dainty, NHS counter-fraud service in Wales
Mr Heyward said one friend had written in a reference for the nurse that the offences were "a culmination of the past six years' rollercoaster ride on life totally overtaking and overwhelming her, both mentally and physically."

But jailing her, the judge told Slaymaker that she was a "caring person who attacked a system dedicated to the care of others".

"This was a long-lasting, determined and significant abuse of trust which led to the loss to the health service of nearly £36,000, which you threw away."

Slaymaker now faces being struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

After the sentencing, Graham Dainty, operational manager of the NHS counter-fraud service in Wales said: "Ms Slaymaker betrayed her employers and shamed her profession.

"The majority of nurses are honest and would not dream of depriving the NHS of its resources - Rhian Slaymaker is an exception.

"Her dishonesty means that money intended for the care of vulnerable patients never reached its target."


SEE ALSO:
Fraud crackdown saves NHS £500m
15 Jun 04  |  Health
Nurse jailed for fraud against NHS
07 Mar 03  |  England



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