Agencies working in partnership are set to recover the money after a doctor defrauded over £1 million to fund his online gambling habit, from the Portsmouth group of GP practices he co-founded.

Dr Rumi Chhapia has already had to pay back £238,000 to Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance (PPCA). Now, several online gambling companies will return money to the stretched primary care service, which patients and taxpayers rely so much on, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Chhapia was temporarily in charge of the PPCA’s finances, when he made 65 transfers to his own bank account. From 20 August to 30 September 2020, he embezzled £1,133,704.50.

Chhapia earlier pleaded guilty to the charge of Fraud by Abuse of Position, contrary to Section 4 of the Fraud Act 2006. He was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment on Friday 5th November at Portsmouth Crown Court.

All the money originally came from the NHS, distributed to PPCA (a group of 16 GP practices) via Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group. Patients and the public have reacted with outrage to the news.

Richard Rippin, Head of Operations at the national level NHS Counter Fraud Authority said today:

“This was an outrageous fraud against the NHS. Anybody contemplating such crimes must understand that agencies both inside and outside of the NHS are working closely together to find fraud and bring criminals to justice, including recovering all moneys stolen. The NHSCFA commends the excellent work undertaken by the Fraud and Security Management Service of Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG in cooperation with Hampshire Constabulary, who led the investigation. It is another recent example of excellent inter-agency working to stamp out fraud against our health system.

“The case reminds all in the health care system to remain vigilant and report any suspicion of fraud, which is so damaging.

“It is hard for taxpayers and NHS patients to learn that money intended to develop primary care services was squandered by Rumi Chhapia. NHSCFA is delighted that proactive and collaborative work has paid off and the lost funds will be returned by the gambling companies where they ended up.”

Judge Keith Cutler said in sentencing: “You abused the trust placed on you and took £1.13m from the PPCA, money which in my judgement should have been for GP surgeries to develop their services. This is a very serious abrogation of your responsibilities as a doctor…”

Dr Chhapia resigned in October 2020 and has been referred to the General Medical Council to consider his fitness to practice.

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If you suspect that anyone is committing fraud or another economic crime against the NHS, tell NHSCFA about it – you can visit our main website to report online: www.cfa.nhs.uk or telephone our 24-hour reporting line 0800 028 40 60.

“NHS fraud. Spot it, report it, together we stop it”

For more information contact the NHSCFA press office on 07747 461860 / media@nhscfa.gov.uk.

Notes to Editors

  1. The NHS Counter Fraud Authority is a Special Health Authority established under the NHS Act 2006 as amended. It is sponsored by the Department for Health and Social Care, accountable to the department’s Anti-Fraud Unit (AFU).
  2. The NHSCFA assess that the NHS vulnerability to fraud, bribery and corruption leads to an estimated loss of £1.14 billion (2019-20).
  3. When NHSCFA uses the term ‘fraud’, we refer to a range of economic crimes, such as fraud, bribery, corruption or any other illegal acts committed by an individual or group of individuals to obtain a financial or professional gain.
  4. NHSCFA also supports the work of the NHS Counter Fraud Service (Wales).
  5. NHSCFA works closely with NHS Local Counter Fraud Specialists across the NHS in England to ensure that healthcare crime is tackled, and a culture of fraud prevention and deterrence is in place.
  6. NHSCFA works collaboratively with NHS Scotland Counter Fraud Services on fraud issues.
  7. There are some 300 professionally trained and accredited Local Counter Fraud Specialists in place within health bodies across England and Wales.