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Birmingham dentist stole £1.4m from NHS

19th October 2012

A dentist who stole £1.4million from the NHS by submitting over 7,000 false claims for payment has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment, following an investigation by NHS Protect. The judge called the crime, “calculated, blatant and dishonest” further adding that [Trail] “did what [she] did out of pure greed” (Coventry Crown Court, 5 October 2012).

Dr Joyce Trail, 50, of Park Drive, Little Aston, Sutton Coldfield, carried out one of the  biggest frauds ever investigated against the NHS. Between April 2006 and March 2009, she submitted fraudulent claims for dental treatment she had not performed, including for deceased persons and patients she had never met. Trail forged over 28,000 documents to support her bogus claims.

Trail, who ran Dr Joyce E. Trail & Associates Dental Practice in Hamstead Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the NHS in July 2012. She later pleaded guilty to intending to pervert the course of justice.

Almost 75% of the payments made to Trail under her NHS contract were based on false claims. The vast majority were for band three work, the highest value NHS dental treatment. 154 claims - costing more than £26,573 - for fitting dentures or taking impressions, were for persons deceased at the time she claimed to have started treatment. Trail also claimed for fitting dentures to patients who didn't need them, for patients receiving private treatment, and doubled and tripled claims for those she had treated.

NHS Protect investigators examined 14,300 exhibits, amounting to 80,000 pieces of paper. As part of this, 4,300 fake laboratory forms, created to support bogus claims, represented over £700,000 of alleged work, which was never carried out.

Also on trial was Trail’s daughter Nyri Sterling, 33, of Ashwood Close, Oldbury. She was employed in an administrative role at the practice and was charged with conspiracy to defraud. She was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Trail was awarded a dental contract in 2006 by Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) to operate an NHS dental practice. The contract, worth between £602,000 and  £640,000 per year, did not depend on providing evidence of claims to the PCT, although Trail did have to submit claim details to the NHS Business Services Authority’s Dental Services Division (NHS BSA). The contract was paid in 12 monthly installments.

Trail also approached nursing and care homes to offer treatment to residents, and used their names and addresses to claim for bogus work. She pretended to have treated patients in care homes as far afield as Nottingham and Manchester. A care home in Nottingham raised the alarm when the Dental Services Division enquired about Trail’s claims. It was found that Trail could not have provided NHS treatment. The resident she claimed to have seen had not been treated by her and was a private patient.

Even after Trail’s assets had been frozen, she continued to act dishonestly. She used a bank account in another person’s name and paid money from the dental practice into this bank account. She also rented a house out, and asked the tenant to pay in cash so there would be no paper trail of this additional income.

Sue Frith, Head of NHS Protect’s National Investigation Service, said today: “Joyce Trail falsely claimed NHS funds and would have no doubt continued to do so had she not been stopped. Stealing from the NHS is not a victimless crime. NHS Protect takes reports of all fraud seriously and investigates where required. We push for the strongest possible sanctions for offenders.”

The practice is no longer operating.

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Comments

Anonymous

Tuesday 23rd October 2012 @ 21:02

Sir,

The practice of submitting claims without providing any evidence is, to tell the least, too attractive and alluring for any dishonest and greedy PCT contractor to present such bogus and fraudulent bills. Would it not be better that the concerned

Authority look into this aspect and plug it.



It is surprising that the bogus claims went (unaudited? and) undetected for three years.


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