A senior nurse, Cherith Douglas who defrauded more than £10,000 from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust has been sentenced to 14 months imprisonment. The nurse was also sentenced to a further 9 months imprisonment for the separate offence of obtaining employment in a private nursing home using forged references.
Cherith Douglas entered guilty pleas to a total of 12 offences – eight of fraud by false representation and four of false accounting, all committed on various dates between April 11 2015 and May 5 2017.
The offences related to when Douglas was a senior band seven nurse at Craigavon Area Hospital and then as nursing manager at a nursing home in Lisburn.
An investigation undertaken by the Business Services Organisation’s Counter Fraud Service established Douglas was using her position as a senior nurse to facilitate fraud by claiming for duplicate shifts and for hours not worked.
Douglas was suspended by the Trust in May 2017 and subsequently resigned from her position.
Sentencing Douglas to seven months in prison, with a further seven months to be served on licence Judge Patrick Lynch QC told the disgraced former nurse “At a time when the health service has been rightly praised, it’s a great pity that a person such as yourself, an experienced and trained clinician, should find yourself before me,” said the Craigavon Crown Court judge, “a reputation in tatters, a career in tatters.”
Donna Scott, Assistant Director of Counter Fraud Services, Business Services Organisation, said: “The offences committed by this senior nurse show a blatant disregard for the Health Service and the public purse. Fraud in the Northern Ireland Health Service will not be tolerated and I welcome this judgement as it sends a clear message to anyone contemplating fraudulent activity within the Health Service.”
Notes to editors:
1. Cherith Douglas was found guilty of 8 counts of Fraud by False Representation contrary to Section 2 of the Fraud Act (2006) and 4 counts of False Accounting contrary to Section 17 of the Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969.
2. Counter Fraud Services, Business Services Organisation are responsible for the investigation of all cases of suspected fraud across Health and Social Care, Northern Ireland.
3. To report an incident of suspected fraud, please call the HSC Fraud Hotline on 0800 096 33 96 or send a report online at https://cfps.hscni.net/
4. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074, out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
5. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt