NHS finance chief given 11-year jail sentence for triple job fraud

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Former NHS director of finance, Stephen Day, 51, was sentenced today (April 15) to 11 years and five months’ in prison following his conviction for a series of serious fraud offences which included significant offences against the NHS.

The NHSCFA investigated the case in partnership with Greater Manchester Police, and have been responsible for investigating the fact that Day was fraudulently occupying three full time senior NHS positions at once, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Day, of Queich Mill, Blairgowrie, near Perth in Scotland, obtained the positions through two employment agencies which were both unaware of his deception – Axon Resourcing Limited and Hays Specialist Recruitment Limited.

From November 2012 to January 2013, Day simultaneously held full time interim director of finance or equivalent posts with Merseyside Commissioning Support Unit (CSU); South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Group (SESSP CCG); and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust (CWPT).

He failed to disclose his employment to all three organisations.

Day worked as a full time director of finance for both Merseyside CSU and SESSP CCG between November 1, 2012, and January 14, 2013.

This enabled him to fraudulently earn a combined salary of £2,000 a day.

During this period, in December 2012, he accepted a third simultaneous NHS director of finance position, with CWPT. The total loss to the NHS amounted to £88,000.

What started in May 2013 as a locally-led NHS investigation was tasked to the NHSCFA’s National Investigation Service in September that year.

Its investigators uncovered that Day had spared no effort to maintain the illusion of carrying out his multiple responsibilities.

To cover his tracks he would contact his NHS employers with a range of excuses for his numerous absences – from needing to “work from home”, to having to receive “cancer treatment”.

On one occasion, when he needed to attend an NHS job interview in London, he said that his father had died.

On top of his NHS posts, he had extensive private business interests to run.

Day declined to use NHS mobile phones and laptops and was only available through the personal assistant at his private business.

At the start of his employment at CWPT he commenced a two-day handover with the outgoing director of finance. Day was still employed at SESSG CCG and, unbeknown to him, the outgoing director of finance at CWPT was taking up a new role over seeing all the directors of finance in the Staffordshire area including the role at SESSG CCG, which Day occupied.

This was the start of his undoing and it was quickly ascertained that Day had held the position of director of finance at Merseyside CSU and director of finance at SESSG CCG at the same time for a period of about nine weeks, with neither NHS organisation aware of the matter.

During his interview under caution he tried to defend his criminal actions by saying that it did not stipulate in his contracts that he had to declare other employment.

The NHSCFA were assisted by Greater Manchester Police with the arrest of Stephen Day and subsequent property searches.

Greater Manchester Police later launched their own investigation into Day after receiving four separate allegations against Stephen Day which amounted to more than £1.3m in suspected fraudulent activity.

Day pleaded guilty to 12 charges of fraud and theft, including three counts relating to the NHS, but disputed the amounts he had stolen for the Greater Manchester Police investigation.

He was sentenced on all 12 counts, with all sentences to run consecutively, totalling 11 years and five months.

Day is to serve a minimum of half of the sentence in prison, with the remainder on licence.

His Honour, Judge Batiste, commended the “exceptional police and investigative work” by “Detective Sergeant, Donoghue of Greater Manchester Police, Ben Evans, FI Manager of Greater Manchester Police and Mr Mick Meade, Senior Fraud Investigator of the NHSCFA.”

The Judge also added that “it was an exceptionally complex case requiring much hard work which was to a high standard”.

Richard Rippin, head of operations of the NHSCFA, said today: “Stephen Day carried out a calculated fraud against the NHS.

“Any money lost to fraud effects the amount of resources the NHS has available for front line care. The money stolen by Day would have been enough to fund the annual salaries of three nurses.

“We are pleased that through joint working with Greater Manchester Police we were able to show the court the full extent of his offending. The NHSCFA believe that multi-agency working such as this is the best way to stamp out fraud against the public sector.

“If you suspect NHS fraud, please report it to us either through our online reporting form or by calling our fraud and corruption reporting line.”

Detective Sergeant Stuart Donohue from Greater Manchester Police’s Specialist Fraud Investigation team, said today: “Day was a career-criminal. He built his life on cheating and stealing.

“He was very meticulous in what he did and would often move money to and from so many accounts that it was difficult to distinguish the route it had taken.

“He did this to try and confuse us, but we never doubted that we, alongside NHS investigators, would uncover the extent of his deceit and greed.

“Every step of the way he has lied and tried to find any way to avoid going to prison. He has created numerous deliberate delays to the prosecution, which the Police and CPS have tirelessly dealt with, and has been unwilling to fully accept his actions.

“But, as with all crimes, it has caught up with him today.

“I would like to thank the victims in this case for their unwavering patience over the last six years, and assure them that, although the investigation has closed, we’ll continue to work to try and recompense them, and recoup some of the funds he stole.”

Ben Reid, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said today: “Stephen Day was a financial consultant who was trusted by many to look after their money – but instead he took the money and spent it on holidays and houses for himself.

“He acted in a despicable manner when he stole from the taxpayer’s much needed funding of the NHS, companies and individuals he tricked through romance frauds.

“The CPS worked closely with Police and NHS investigators to evidence Mr Day’s lies and we are pleased that he has now been imprisoned, which hopefully brings some comfort to his victims.”

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