Woman jailed after fraud investigation

A NURSE practitioner who gained her job at Newcastle Upon Tyne Primary Care Trust by falsely claiming to have both nursing and teaching qualifications has been jailed for eight months for fraud.

Susan Kelly, 45, of South End, Butteryhaugh, Kielder, pleaded guilty to four offences worth a total of £103,238.70, when she appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.

She was jailed for eight months for each offence, to be served concurrently.

Kelly committed three offences of fraud by false representation and one of aiding and abetting.

Her husband, Mark Darren Kelly, admitted making the false qualification documents she produced when she successfully applied to the Trust for her job at the Molineux Street Walk-in Centre at Byker.

He was charged with two offences contrary to section one of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981. He received six months’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, and 180 hours of community unpaid work.

In November 2007, Susan Kelly submitted an online application via the NHS Jobs website. Essential criteria for applicants included being a First Level Registered Nurse (RGN) working towards or already having a nursing degree, and having ‘proven abilities and skills in teaching others via a recognised teaching qualification and relevant teaching experience.’

Her application claimed she had completed a health studies degree at Sunderland University in 1996 and a teaching certificate at Sunderland College in 1994, which was key to her being shortlisted for interview and being appointed in November 2007.

The court heard concerns were raised about her competency in February 2010 and Kelly was asked to submit all her nursing qualifications for examination. She produced all certificates, apart from her nursing degree and teaching awards.

After repeated requests, in April 2010 Kelly submitted two documents as proof: A 730 Teaching Certificate in the name of Susan Benstead from the University of Sunderland, and a Statement of Results for 1997/2002 in the name Susan Wilde awarded by Sunderland University dated June 27, 2002, indicating she had been awarded a degree certificate for a Degree in Health Studies – Development in Nursing.

After an internal disciplinary investigation, Kelly was summarily dismissed from the PCT in June 2010.

Subsequent inquiries with Sunderland University revealed her documents to be false. The university had a record of Susan Kelly, but she was not awarded a degree in nursing, nor a teaching qualification.

Kelly was arrested and her home searched for evidence of fraud in August 2010. Her husband was also arrested and both made full admissions when interviewed by NHS Protect investigators.

John Cox, Northern and Yorkshire area anti-fraud specialist at NHS Protect, said: “Local NHS investigators are appointed to lead on many of the investigations, but this was an example of a higher value fraud which required us to investigate directly.

“It is disturbing that Kelly got into a position of such trust by exaggerating her abilities, but the majority of NHS staff are honest and feel let down by such behaviour.”