A nurse who swindled almost £350,000 out of the NHS after lying on his CV has been jailed.
Phillip Hufton, 52 lived a ‘lavish lifestyle’ for 17 months after he lied to get a job where he faked expenses and went on imaginary business trips funded by the NHS.
He was sacked in January 2016 after internal NHS investigation found several discrepancies in his work time and expenses.
In one instance Hufton, from Cheadle Hume in Cheshire, was found to have run up a £9,000 invoice bill for a fake work trip when he was actually on holiday in the USA.
He then set up a fake email account to authorise £13,000 of expenses while on the bogus break.
He also claimed to have been in the army where he saved ‘countless lives in the UN’ and would also show off photos of himself wearing fake medals.
A court heard on Thursday that while he worked at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) he also pretended to have cancer and took time off for surgery which was never carried out.
Hufton, who worked at Fulbourn Hospital from September 2014 to January 2016 as a business development manager was hired to promote the trusts business in the Middle East.
Sergeant Andy Denzey of Cambridgeshire Police said: “In interview with myself and other officers, Hufton initially stated all of this was a big misunderstanding.
“However, over the next hour and a half he eventually admitted that he lied about almost everything. His lies were almost beyond belief.
“He admitted to claiming to be in Jordan whilst actually on holiday in America with his family. He admitted to lying about having cancer.
“Hufton caused a great inconvenience and a large amount of stress to all involved, turning his hand to criminality in order to fund his personal life.”
Cambridge Crown Court heard Hufton also claimed to hold membership of numerous professional bodies, such as the Royal Society of Medicine, but these were all found to have been false or had lapsed.
In October 2015, Hufton told the trust he was working in Amman visiting refugee camps, claiming £9,000 in expenses, but GPRS from his phone placed him in the USA and the Caribbean Islands.
Investigations revealed Hufton emailed a photo of a refugee camp he had found on Google to a colleague, with the title ‘off to the office’.
In December 2015, Hufton booked to stay at the Marriott Hotel in Cambridge and booked a flight to Doha for a four-day trip.
The unauthorised trip cost the trust £2,837 and at the time Hufton had been off work due to ‘illness’.
Enquiries about Hufton’s CV found the majority of his educational claims to be false.
He claimed to have a PhD, a master’s degree and five other diplomas. In reality, he only had a Bachelor of Nursing Degree but continued to call himself a doctor.
He claimed to have a PhD, a master’s degree and five other diplomas but only actually held a Bachelor of Nursing Degree.
At a previous court hearing, Hufton pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation on the basis that the financial benefit to him was only £173,000 and not the full amount of £349,383.
During sentencing, Judge Jonathan Cooper told Hufton the offences had helped him fund a lavish lifestyle and he later took steps to make it harder for his employer to report his actions.
Hufton was jailed for five years.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust said: “The actions of Philip Hufton were reprehensible. He had come to the Trust highly recommended and with good references.
“However, at a time when NHS finances are under severe pressure, he decided to defraud taxpayers’ money for personal gain.
“He also sought to win the trust of staff with his series of lies.
“He may well have committed further crimes if hadn’t been for the diligence of colleagues who raised initial concerns, and our internal investigators who then alerted Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
“We would like to thank police for their support and the painstaking investigation they undertook, and the sentence given to Philip Hufton is entirely appropriate.”
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