HASAN ABUSHEIKHA, aged 47, formerly a theatre manager at St Albans City Hospital, has been found guilty of six offences under the Theft, Fraud and Bribery Acts in March 2023 and sentenced to eleven years behind bars.
Presiding at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Lana Wood said on the sentencing: “The earning of commission was your primary objective when your primary concern should have been to act in the best interests of the West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. You acted in breach of the Trust’s expectations of impartiality.”
Elmo Emanuel, aged 74, who was CEO of Implants International and Xtremity Solutions Ltd (both of which were companies supplying medical equipment to St Albans City Hospital) was sentenced to 28 months in prison having been found guilty of one charge of bribing Abusheikha in March this year.
A second West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust supplier, namely Jawid Khan (aged 51, a director of TSI Med Ltd), had pleaded guilty to one charge of bribing Abusheikha in March 2022 and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.
The investigation process was carried out by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, with the prosecution led by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The total value of all offences runs to upwards of £600,000.
Position of responsibility
During the trial, those in attendance at St Albans Crown Court heard that Abusheikha was in a position of responsibility within the NHS whereby he was able to procure medical items on behalf of the NHS Trust.
As part of his role, Abusheikha was required to make purchase order requests for items required for surgical procedures carried out within the hospital. The investigation undertaken by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority was able to prove that Abusheikha was in a relationship with two NHS Trust suppliers in which he accepted bribes to ensure that the NHS Trust procured medical items (including implants) from the companies concerned.
Abusheikha was also convicted of receiving payments from two further suppliers to the NHS Trust. Abusheikha ordered goods from these companies that he himself had supplied to them. In return, Abusheikha received at least two-thirds of the value of the goods invoiced.
During the investigation, Abusheikha’s house was searched and many orthopaedic implantable devices, surgical instruments and items of medical equipment with a value in excess of £65,000 were recovered. The investigation was able to prove that these had been stolen from the NHS Trust.
Proceeds of Crime Act
The NHS Counter Fraud Authority and the CPS will now be leading a process under the Proceeds of Crime Act that aims to recover any funds fraudulently obtained and feed them back into the NHS.
NHS Counter Fraud Authority investigators Mark Howard and Gemma Quembv were both commended by Judge Lana Wood for their work throughout the investigation and the trial.
Following the sentencing, Mark Howard said: “The sentences reflect the nature of the offences committed. Hasan Abusheikha abused his position at the NHS Trust for five years. He betrayed the faith placed in him by St Albans City Hospital’s management and organised a litany of dishonest schemes for his own benefit. He co-opted Elmo Emmanuel and Jawid Khan to participate in two of these schemes and, as a result, wasted valuable NHS resources.”
Pamela Jain, specialist prosecutor for the CPS, observed: “Bribery and corruption of this kind have no place in our society, and certainly have no place in the hard-pressed NHS where having the right equipment to carry out safe procedures is essential.”
Jain continued: “These three men were more motivated by their own greed and dishonesty than supporting the NHS with its vital work. In conjunction with the investigation team at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, we are pleased to have brought them to justice. We will now pursue confiscation proceedings against them to recover their criminal proceeds.”
Clear message for criminals
Richard Rippin, head of operations at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, explained: “We are delighted with the sentences. We hope that the punishments delivered send a clear message to criminals that there’s a robust investigative response deployed across the NHS at both a local and a national level.”
Rippin concluded: “Our investigators are there to combat fraud, bribery and corruption and protect public money that’s intended for vital patient care. We will now continue our work to recover the money stolen and return it directly to NHS funds.”
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