A senior doctor who defrauded the NHS of nearly £12,000 to top up his £100,000 a year salary, has been given a suspended jail term.
John Coffey, of Goose Lane, Chipping, near Preston, worked as a consultant radiologist at the Royal Preston Hospital, responsible for reviewing and reporting on a variety of medical scans.
But a probe into his overtime claims exposed the greedy medic was claiming an unearned, unapproved bonus at taxpayers’ expense by carrying out thousands of plain film X-ray studies in his normal working day - then claiming he had done it out of hours.
Coffey, 53, admitted fraud by false representation after claiming £4 per X-ray.
The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, imposed a 15 month jail term suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work.
He must also pay £14,600 costs.
Preston Crown Court heard Coffey was not contracted to study plain film scans from standard x-rays as part of his job plan, and had initially refused the extra work - but then agreed to do so at a rate of £4 per film, outside his working hours to help his department to clear a waiting list backlog.
The scam involved him lining up almost-completed reports after working on them earlier in the day and waiting until 5pm to re-enter the clinical IT system and hit the “submit” button.
When interviewed under caution, the consultant strenuously denied having been dishonest - but was unable to offer a good reason for entering each x-ray patient’s record once before, and once after, 5pm.
Bob Elias, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said: “Put simply what this case is about is a doctor doing optional extra NHS work which he is meant to do outside his contracted hours but instead doing the work within his contracted day and then rather cynically signing off the work on the computer system outside his working day.
“In effect he’s doing overtime within the working day so he is paid twice by the NHS. Paid twice in reality by the taxpayer.”
In one day in March 2014, between 11.20am and 5pm, Coffey reviewed and reported on 100 plain film x-rays during a session when he was supposed to be doing his normal job plan work, resulting in a £400 loss to the NHS.
The NHS fraud team’s analysis work identified a number of dates whereby the defendant appeared to have been completing the ‘Out of Hours’ plain film reporting during his normal working day.
Mr Elias added: “Such a cynical position is we would say, clearly dishonest."
Coffey resigned in December 2014 and has repaid the overpayment in full.