It's just as well I hadn't planned to go down to Guildford Crown Court today to watch the start of the Peter Lewis trial - after months of delay he nipped in last week and changed his plea to guilty.
Check out the story and then I'll have my take on why this is symbolic of a real problem in the NHS;
Royal Surrey County Hospital
Former Royal Surrey County Hospital IT director pleads guilty to corruption
The cost to the hospital of the fraud committed by Peter Lewis and Richard Moxon is calculated to be some £81,000, a court has heard.
By Georgina Townshend
22 NOV 2016
Royal Surrey County Hospital
A former senior member of staff at Royal Surrey County Hospital and an IT company director have pleaded guilty to corruption in relation to the awarding of a contract for software to record data in the hospital’s A&E department.
At Guildford Crown Court on Monday (November 21), Peter Lewis, 57, of Windlesham, admitted receiving payments from Richard Moxon, 41, of Wybunbury in Cheshire, in return for awarding him an ICT contract worth £950,000 in 2011
Lewis originally denied one count of receiving corrupt payments in March, and was due to face trial next Monday (November 28).
At the same hearing in March, Moxon pleaded guilty to one count of making corrupt payments.
Surrey Police said Moxon each month 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 for the arrangement, Moxon paid Lewis nine payments totalling £73,770, and made a further payment of £7,200 to a stables to whom Lewis owed money.
All the payments were made between January and December 2011.
The fraud came to light in December 2011 when the trust conducted a disciplinary investigation into his relationship with another supplier.
Subsequent work found that 40% of the ICT product supplied by Moxon did not meet the needs of the trust.
According to Surrey Police the hospital 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.
Detective Sergeant Chris Rambour, of the Surrey and Sussex Economic Crime Unit, said: “Peter Lewis chose to breach the trust placed in him by the NHS and to feather his own nest.
"It was only through the diligence of the trust that his corruption came to light.
All of that is fairly straightforward and not so surprising; a highly paid manager at an NHS hospital trust rips us off.
But there are a couple of twists to this story.
First of all, here's an extract from another article in 'GetSurrey', this one comes from 2012;
THE senior management team at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford has been thrown into disarray for the second time in as many months, after the deputy chief executive handed in her notice this week.
News of Sue Lewis’s resignation followed her husband’s recent dismissal from the NHS trust.
Mrs Lewis, who was also chief operating officer at the hospital, resigned from her post on Wednesday (February 8) following 17 years of service.
Her husband, Peter Lewis, the former informatics director, was fired following an investigation into irregular financial transactions.
Peter Dunt, the trust’s chairman, said the executive board understood and accepted Mrs Lewis’s reasons for stepping down and paid tribute to her "significant" contribution through many years of service.
“During the investigation which led to the disciplinary of Peter Lewis, evidence of irregular financial transactions emerged which the trust felt obliged to forward to the police,” he said.
“The police are now conducting their own investigation.
“These findings, and Peter Lewis’s dismissal from the trust in December, have been very difficult for the trust and undoubtedly had an impact on Sue Lewis as both his wife and our chief operating officer and deputy chief executive.
“As a result, she has been evaluating her position at the trust and has decided that the right course of action is to offer her resignation, which the board fully understands and has accepted.
“Sue has worked at the Royal Surrey for more than 17 years and has been a board member since 2003.
Now the first point is that while there is no suggestion that Ms Lewis had any involvement in her husbands dishonesty, it is surely completely inappropriate that a married couple should
both hold such senior positions in an NHS Trust - at the very least it raises suggestions of a conflict of interest.
So then I followed the subsequent career of Ms Lewis after she left Royal Surrey County Hospital in these unfortunate circumstances.
You won't be surprised to hear that she has had no problem continuing to earn a good living from the NHS.
For nearly two years she worked for Bart's Health NHS Trust
and here's an extract from her online CV;
• Member of the Trust Management Board
• Responsible for legacy Trust sites (including Royal London) and their performance
• Member of senior team that led the operational transition of the merger to form the largest Trust in England
• Responsible for identifying key issues in performance including A&E waiting times; RTT and cancer targets and supporting transformation in these areas.
• Led major bed modeling programme across Trust
• Trust lead for emergency pathway
• Represented Barts Health externally including HealthWatch, Tower Hamlets CCG and LA.
• Operational lead for Quality and Risk, including link for the CQC inspection
• Trust lead for Integrated Care, with membership of the WELC Pioneer programme.
• Supported the achievement of CIPs
• Deputised for COO for both functions (eg budget responsibility) and attendance at Trust and other meetings, eg FT preparation.
Now it was at this time that I was highlighting on my other blog, the extensive problems at this Trust. They certainly needed expert help. Unfortunately, it came to nothing - the medical and financial problems worsened until in 2015, Bart's Health was placed in special financial measures, because it's finances were in such a disastrous state.
So where did Ms Lewis do then?
She chose self employment and created her own consultancy company......which has been engaged by 'Monitor', the health service regulator which is there to raise standards in the NHS.
Here's what she's been up to over the last couple of years advising three trusts who were placed in special measures;
Working as an Improvement Director with the Health Regulator, Monitor/NHSI with three contracts over the last two years. One at East Kent Hospitals and a second at Colchester NHS FT. Have recently successfully completed a similar role at Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals NHS FT.Significant work in ensuring improvements in all areas performance alongside each Board.
Led refresh of Boards where necassary.
Drove improvement through PMO's.
Acted as challenger, advisor and supporter for Trust teams ensuring improvements.
Worked with various external stakeholders and other in the political landscape.
Last contract due to end September this year.
Now it may just be me (and there is no suggestion Ms Lewis has broken the law or is personally incompetent) but is she the most suitable person to be involved in highly paid roles sorting out NHS Trusts which have been placed in special measures?
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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