Manchester, United Kingdom
VIJAY SHAH via SAM CORBISHLEY/Metro
The manager of a doctor’s surgery in the Failsworth area of Manchester has been jailed for three years after she swindled her employer out of GBP £700,000 (USD $880,038) which she spent feeding her online gambling addiction, reported the UK’s Metro newspaper recently.
Karen Evans, an NHS (National Health Service) manager who ran the Failsworth Group medical practice, was in charge of managing the administration for the surgery’s GPs (general practitioners). She was also in charge of the surgery’s finances and used her access to funds to make an astonishing 327 different transactions totalling £582,265.65.
Evans began her theft just a month into her new role as manager, which she started in December of 2016, even though she was drawing on a salary of £38,000. She became addicted to gambling after battling through an abusive relationship and drug abuse issues, according to the defence barrister at her trial in Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court. She began spending the surgery funds on games via popular gambling apps such as Sky Bet, Gala Bingo and Bet Fred.
She carried out the fraud by falsifying NHS patient records so as to obtain extra health funds which were intended for staff wages, medications and medical supplies. The funds were then diverted to two personal bank accounts held in her name. She would then use the money to feed her gambling addiction, as well as make other purchases, according to the prosecution at her trial. She persisted in the deception for fifteen months, or nearly one and a half years, until she was caught and her managerial position terminated.
Court prosecutor Duncan Wilcock told the presiding judge Maurice Greene “There were 323 patient records that had been falsified – nine were marked as end of life care but they were not end of life care patients,’
‘The doctor had to reassure them that they weren’t in an end of life situation.’
‘When the bank accounts were looked at it was found that money was spent on online gambling including Sky Bet, Gala Bingo and Bet Fred.’
‘Whatever she won it would appear she was simply putting them back on again. ‘She also paid some bills, hair and beauty, and some holidays in the UK and abroad – but the majority went on gambling.’
Evans’ barrister Robert Smith told the court that his client was “a woman who had had many difficulties in life suffering from domestic violence and drug misuse”. In her defence he stated that she had been a good mother and also had a grandchild.
Smith further went on: “The money that went on gambling and the holidays could well have easily been afforded from her employment and over the last number of years she was a women who had managed to get her life in order with things bubbling under the surface,’
‘But she had a problem with drink and an addiction to codeine medication as a means to escape she resorted to gambling on her mobile phone using apps.’
‘It is so simple to do – at one stage she won £120,000 and the gambling company awarded her a bottle of champagne, but she lost the money in days.’
‘Her addiction was allowed to continue and the gambling companies do play some part in this.”
Evans’ considerable fraud operation nearly brought the Failsworth Group medical practice to its knees. Four of the five GPs, or doctors, operating out of the surgery were forced to leave or take early retirement as the surgery was haemorrhaging funds, and other staff were left with no choice but to arrange a £25,000 bank overdraft in order to pay its employees. A compulsory investigation into the overdraft uncovered Evans’ theft and she was subsequently arrested.
At her trail, Justice Greene told Evans: “It is quite clear that you are a lady with a gambling addiction and have accepted that,…’
‘You are remorseful now and you do accept the need for treatment for gambling addiction but it is quite worrying that you could clock up well over half a million in a 15-month period.’
‘It’s so easy to gamble in this way and to lose money so quickly and that is what has happened.”
Though he acknowledged her personal difficulties and addiction struggles, the justice also condemned Evan’s fraud as a ‘calculated and cruel scam’ which caused distress to patients who were made to believe they were on end-of-life treatment plans though they did not have terminal illnesses.
Karen Evans was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment after admitting to two charges of fraud by abuse of position. The court also learnt that Evans had also committed a similar, but smaller fraud at a previous doctor’s surgery she worked at in nearby Hattersley between 2012 and 2016. In that crime she pocketed £77,000, but this had somehow escaped the attention of her most recent ex-employer.
“GP manager stole £700,000 of NHS money to play gambling apps on her phone” – Sam Corbishley, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (11 July 2019) https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/11/gp-manager-stole-700000-nhs-money-play-gambling-apps-phone-10178852/