CV lie lands NHS manager with suspended sentence

A senior NHS hospital manager, who managed to land a job by lying about having a degree, has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for fraud against the NHS.

A statement, released by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority late last week, revealed Peter Knight was a director on the Board of Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, had been serving as its chief information and digital officer from August 2016 until his resignation in September 2018.

Knight was ordered by Oxford Crown Court to complete 30 hours of rehabilitation and 200 hours of unpaid work.

The Authority further revealed that a locally-led fraud investigation began after an anonymous tip-off was reported by OUH’s chief finance officer to the Trust’s Local Counter Fraud Specialist (LCFS).

While all of the Trust’s executive and non-executive directors’ files had been updated in November 2017 as part of its duties under the fit and proper persons checks, when checked during the investigation, Knight’s HR file did not contain a copy of the degree certificate he claimed he had.

Possessing a relevant degree was not formally an essential requirement for applicants, and candidates lacking such a degree with “at least 10 years’ experience in senior management positions within sizable organisations could apply for the role.

Knight pleaded guilty at his first appearance on 3 December 2019 at Oxford Magistrates Court.

Commenting on the implications of the case, Stephen Jennings, partner and solicitor, Tozers Solicitors, told Recruiter recruitment agencies need to be very clear what level of checks they are committing to undertake in respect of applicants, and this needs to be clearly recorded in terms and conditions.

“If applicants are passed on without checks being made, this should be highlighted to a client, which should be advised to make its own checks,” Jennings added.

“If the agency agrees to check candidates’ qualifications itself but fails to do so to a reasonable standard, it risks a claim for breach of contract with attendant reputational damage.”

Sybille Steiner, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, also warns agencies risk reputational damage.

“Recruitment agencies supplying individuals should be mindful that checks of qualifications are in place so as to ensure that false qualification claims are discovered at the earliest possible opportunity. Not checking qualification properly can result in people being endangered and also in recruitment agencies suffering adverse damage to their reputation.”

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