Psychiatric unit employees on trial for £2.5m NHS fraud

Two employees at a private psychiatric hospital in Norfolk went on trial on Tuesday for allegedly defrauding £2.5m out of the NHS with “fantasy charges” for patient care.

Nurse Andrew Breeze, 53, and accountant Dominic Wilson, 36, deny conspiring to defraud primary care trusts by invoicing them for one-to-one 24-hour patient care, described as “extra care”, that the prosecution says was not provided.

The pair worked at Cawston Park, a private hospital near Aylsham for people with mental health problems run by Norfolk-based company Chancellor Care.

The trial is being covered by the Eastern Daily Press newspaper.

Prosecuting, John Farmer told jurors at Ipswich Crown Court that the service, charged at hundreds of pounds per day, was also sometimes billed weeks in advance, before it could be known what patients’ needs would be.

The jury was told that Mark Deveney, a psychiatric nurse who selected people for whom extra care was to be charged, turned whistleblower after being sacked.

Mr Farmer said that PCTs for York and Peterborough were billed for extra care during the period between February 2004 and September 2006, as well as health trusts for Norwich and Norfolk.

The trial, expected to last 14 weeks, continues.

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