NHSCFA Investigation Results in Guilty Plea
A former manager at NHS Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has pleaded guilty to a charge of Fraud by Abuse of Position at Willesden Magistrates Court.
Thanks to the weight of evidence presented by the NHSCFA investigation team at the hearing Thomas Elrick had no option but to plead guilty. Elrick stated that he knew what he was doing was dishonest and that he committed the fraud purely for financial gain. The money defrauded was used to enjoy the lifestyle he had become accustomed to and that he wanted more. The fraud had become an addiction and he was aware that he would be caught.
Sentencing is at Harrow Crown Court on June 8th where it is extremely likely that Mr Elrick will receive a lengthy prison sentence.
The fraud came to light when a colleague at Harrow CCG where Elrick had been employed between April 2017 and December 2020 as the Assistant Managing Director for Planned and Unscheduled Care, queried invoices from a company called Tree of Andre Therapy Services Limited. Due to the unusual company name checks were carried out. Searches could not find any web site for Tree of Andre, there was no trace of the company being registered on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website, and the company was shown as dormant on Companies House records.
The Investigation established that Tree of Andre Ltd was registered to an address in Scotland, which would be too far away to provide services to Harrow CCG. Further investigation showed another company also registered at the same address, called Vesuvius Business Management Limited. It was established that the Vesuvius company name and address matched billing data held at the CCG for a former senior employee called Thomas Elrick.
In his role at the CCG Thomas Elrick managed a team of staff and had a budget responsibility. He had authority and approval to sign off invoices up to a value of £50,000. Between August 2018 and December 2020, he authorised and approved invoices submitted by Tree Of Andre for payment to Harrow CCG totalling £564,484.80. These were paid into a bank account registered to himself. He was the sole approver for all invoices submitted, and no services were delivered, or work conducted for the CCG by that company.
To cover up the fraud an email was sent in June 2020 purporting to be from Tree of Andre to NHS Harrow CCG providing anonymised patient details where care was shown to have been provided, as well as the GP practices concerned. The email was sent from the email address of Carolyn Platt who was Elrick’s deceased wife. Carolyn Platt died in March 2012, eight years prior to the email being sent.
On Friday 26th November 2021 a warrant was executed by police officers from Cumbria Constabulary at Elricks home address in Scotland. Both he and his husband were arrested. The suspects were taken to Carlisle Police Station where they were interviewed under caution by NHSCFA investigators. Both suspects declined the right to any legal representation during the interviews. Elrick gave a full and frank account, admitting to committing the fraud. He stated that Tree of Andre was a ghost company he had set up some months after he began his contract with Harrow CCG. He registered the company on-line in the name of his husband but was adamant that his husband had no knowledge his name, or that his father’s address, had been used.
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