IT MANAGER Barry Stannard has been sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court to five years and four months’ imprisonment for defrauding the NHS and HMRC out of circa £800,000.
Last month, as reported by Security Matters, Stannard pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation and two further charges of cheating the public revenue. The total amount defrauded by Stannard over a seven-year period was £806,229.80.
The sentencing comes at a time when the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) has renewed its focus on procurement fraud and is encouraging more people to report any suspicion of it through the established reporting lines.
Barry David Stannard (aged 53 of Chelmsford in Essex and previously of Hadleigh in Ipswich) committed the offences when he was head of unified communications at the Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust (MEHT). MEHT has since been merged into the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.
As a band 8B senior manager, Stannard was in a position of trust. Concerns first arose after the NHS Trust ran a data matching exercise on its payroll and accounts payable records alongside Companies House records. After a comprehensive initial investigation by the Local Counter Fraud Specialist provider, the investigation was escalated to the NHSCFA’s National Investigation Service and it then became apparent that specialist financial investigation powers would be required.
Stannard had submitted a ‘nil return’ declaration of interests form to the Trust, but the investigation confirmed that he was actually the director of two companies that had received a large amount of money from the Trust over at least seven years (ie from 2012 through until 2019) because he was submitting and then settling the invoices.
Charges for VAT
While Stannard methodically siphoned NHS money into his own pocket, no products or services invoiced for by these companies were ever provided to the NHS. The hundreds of invoices submitted by his own companies to the MEHT were all individually for relatively modest amounts, in turn meaning that Stannard was authorised to sign them off without further checks.
On the invoices he submitted, Stannard also charged for VAT which was never forwarded to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The VAT registration number quoted was false and related to another legitimate company. The VAT that Stannard charged the NHS totalled £132,000. This is included in the total of £806,229.80 that Stannard defrauded from the NHS.
The payments came from the MEHT’s IT budget, which inevitably meant there was less to spend on genuine IT requirements.
The NHSCFA always works closely with other enforcement agencies, in this case alerting HMRC that Stannard had appropriated a legitimate company’s VAT number.
Commenting on the case, Sue Frith (CEO of the NHSCFA) said: “Barry Stannard abused his position in an outrageous way to line his pockets with money intended for NHS services. We are aware of the significant risk that procurement fraud poses for the NHS, which is why the NHS Counter Fraud Authority has been continually working to develop fraud prevention solutions over the last few years. This sentence shows that the NHSCFA’s investigative and preventative work in tackling NHS fraud is absolutely vital.”