AN NHS manager from Windlesham has been jailed for taking bribes to corruptly award a lucrative IT contract at Royal Surrey County Hospital.
Peter Lewis, 57, admitted accepting more than £80,000 in exchange for work worth nearly £1 million.
He was sent to prison for three and a half years at Guildford Crown Court on Friday last week.
Lewis had pleaded guilty to receiving corrupt payments from Richard Moxon, 41, of Wybunbury in Cheshire in return for awarding Moxon a contract worth £950,000 in the first year.
The fraud came to light in December 2011, when Lewis was employed by Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as director of infomatics.
The trust discovered the potential bribery when it conducted a disciplinary investigation into Lewis’s relationship with another supplier and passed the case to Surrey Police.
Lewis was charged and his case came to court in November last year, when he admitted one count of receiving corrupt payments.
The court was told that, each month, Moxon would submit multiple invoices from different companies he controlled. The invoices were all at, or just below, £15,000 – the value that Lewis was able to sign off without oversight.
In return, Moxon paid Lewis nine payments totalling £73,770, and made a further payment of £7,200 to a stables to which Lewis owed money. All the payments were made between January and December 2011.
An investigation found that 40% of the IT products supplied by Moxon did not meet the needs of the trust. It was able to recover some of the lost money by incorporating Moxon’s software into a new system in August 2012, but the trust still declared losses in its financial year of 2011-12 of £433,000 in respect of the project. The direct fraud against the hospital was nearly £81,000.
Moxon, who had previously admitted one count of giving corrupt payments, was sentenced to 14 months in jail at the crown court last Friday.
Surrey Police are now seeking a confiscation order to seize any available assets that Lewis may have, so that they can be used to pay compensation to the hospital trust.
Speaking after the hearing, the head of proactive crime for Surrey Police, Detective-Superintendent Karen Mizzi, said: “Peter Lewis sought to greedily divert money from the NHS into his own pockets. While I am glad to see justice being served through his custodial sentence, my team is now focusing on recovering the money Lewis made from his crime, and returning it to the NHS.
“I hope Richard Moxon’s sentence will act as a warning to other public sector suppliers who may be tempted to go along with a fraud rather than reporting an approach to the relevant authorities at the earliest opportunity.”
Alf Turner, the hospital trust’s deputy chief executive, commented: “It is rare for members of NHS staff to be willing or able to breach their position of trust as highlighted by this case.
“Mr. Lewis’s actions defrauded Royal Surrey, and the people it is here to serve, of over £80,000. Bringing him to justice has been a lengthy and complex process.”