'Dishonest' Preston nurse defrauds hospital trust out of more than £5,000 sick pay

A Preston nurse has admitted defrauding a hospital trust out of more than £5,000 by working elsewhere while claiming sick pay.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 8:44 am

Last week Tanya Elizabeth Barker admitted during a two-day Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing that she had undertaken paid work for Thornbury Nursing Services while receiving paid sickness absence from East Lancashire NHS Trust on May 1, 2014, January 31, 2016, March 21, 2016 and March 22, 2016.

The NMC said her conduct was dishonest in that she knew she was not permitted to work the for the agency whilst on sick leave, intended to conceal from the trust that she was working for the agency, and intended to create the misleading impression to the Trust that she was not fit to work.

The NMC also said she intended to create the misleading impression to the agency that she was fit to work/was not sick, when that was not the case.

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Her fitness to practise had been found to be impaired and she has been given a three year sanction, which she must declare to any employer during that time.

Investigation

The HR department at East Lancashire NHS Trust commissioned an investigation into allegations Band 5 nurse Ms Barker had worked fraudulently, in July 2018.

A fact-finding interview was held on September 5 2018 where she initially denied the allegations. However, after being shown documents from the agency, she then made admissions to the Trust at local level.

A disciplinary hearing was held by the Trust and she was dismissed from her employment on November 30, 2018.

Ms Barker made full admissions to NHS Counter Fraud investigators in June 2019 when interviewed under caution and offered to pay back the sick pay received from the Trust.

An NHS Anti-Fraud Specialist Report details the amount paid during sickness leave was £5,303.63

"A serious departure from expected standards"

Representing Ms Barker, Yvonne Ferns acknowledged that the repeated actions of dishonesty were serious and "involve a serious departure from expected standards".

Ms Ferns informed the panel Ms Barker had engaged with the NMC and demonstrated insight by way of her full acceptance of the charges, but said she denied her fitness to practise was currently impaired by reason of your misconduct.

Shortly after being dismissed by the Trust, Ms Barker worked as a carer in a nursing home, and in January 2020, accepted a full-time role as a nursing home manager for residents with learning disabilities. In February 2021, she took a clinical lead position at a specialist unit for patients with Huntington’s disease, then went back to work in the NHS as a respiratory nurse on a high-dependency unit.

Mrs Ferns said her client had provided her unnamed NHS employer with positive references and was "open and honest" regarding her prior dismissal and pending NMC proceedings.

Ms Barker has stated that she “loves nursing” and that she sees her “future in respiratory nursing”.

The NMC panel

The panel was of the view that Ms Barker's actions while working for the Trust fell seriously short of the conduct and standards expected of a nurse and amounted to misconduct.

A report states: "Nurses occupy a position of privilege and trust in society and are expected at all times to be professional. Patients and their families must be able to trust nurses with their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

"To justify that trust, nurses must be honest and open and act with integrity. They must make sure that their conduct at all times justifies both their patients’ and the public’s trust in the profession."

The panel noted Ms Barker had demonstrated a good level of insight and made early admissions with regard to her dishonest conduct and had since worked in a position of trust as a registered nurse since her dismissal without any regulatory concern in relation to her conduct or practice.

The panel also noted she had had taken steps towards remediation by making repayments to the Trust and had undertaken further training and learning as part of her current NHS nursing role.

Sanction

The panel decided to make a caution order for a period of three years. The effect of this order is that her name on the NMC register will show that she is subject to a caution order and anyone who enquires about your registration will be informed of this order.

The Trust

A spokesperson for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "I make no apology for the Trust’s very high expectations when it comes to the values and behaviours we expect of all colleagues.

It’s important that our patients are able to trust us and, equally, that we can trust each other too. We will always take appropriate action, using the processes in place, to protect people and public money from fraud. We are satisfied with the outcome in this hearing and the matter is closed."