Four to be sentenced over £3m NHS fraud plan

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FOUR people, including a senior NHS manager, will be sentenced next year after being found guilty of plotting to defraud the NHS of more than £3 million, court officials have said.

Huw Grove, from Bristol, and Terence Dixon, from Monmouth, were found guilty at Leeds Crown Court today of charges of conspiracy to defraud after becoming involved in the plot against Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and NHS England, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Neil Wood pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud at an earlier hearing and Lisa Wood pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.

Four other defendants, Jaqualine Grove, from Bristol, Daniel Benton, from Leeds, and Lisa and Wayne Hill, from Colchester, were acquitted of all charges.

The trial, which started last month, heard that Neil Wood, 41, who was employed by the Leeds and York NHS Trust before moving to NHS England, gave work to a number of his friends.

His role was to manage training and staff development and he outsourced “the vast majority” of the work to Huw Grove’s company, The Learning Grove, which was paid more than £3 million of NHS money.

The jury heard that almost exactly 50% of all the money paid to The Learning Grove was transferred to another company, whose sole director was Wood’s wife Lisa.

A series of emails between Neil Wood and Huw Grove, 44, between 2007 and 2014, discussed how they would split the profits and what they wanted to buy with the money, including Sony sound systems and Bose products.

The court heard that when Grove moved to NHS England he worked with other outside companies and told them not to deal with the NHS directly but to work with The Learning Grove.

The Learning Grove would negotiate discounts with the companies and then costs would be inflated before invoices were submitted to the NHS, the jury was told.

Wood also used his position with the NHS to pay another friend, Terry Dixon, 46, an £18,000 administration fee for work that was not carried out.

Simon Higginbotham, specialist fraud lawyer at the CPS, said: “Neil Wood used his position to syphon off millions of pounds from the NHS for his own benefit.

“The fraud is staggering - Wood outsourced services which could have been undertaken in-house so that his wife, friends and contacts received vast sums of money they were not entitled to.

“However, of the money his friends received, Neil Wood more often than not received a 50% cut.

“In total, over £3m was fraudulently spent in this way, and Neil Wood received over half of that.

“All those who have been convicted today, as well as Neil Wood who has already pleaded guilty, have now been held to account for these self-interested actions.”

The four defendants will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on January 8.