A NURSE in Gloucestershire has been sentenced to a 12 month community order for defrauding the NHS.

Registered Nurse Tatenda Mollin Nyamunokora was sentenced to a 12-month community order today (Friday 14, March 2014) at Gloucester Crown Court.

Ms Nyamunokora had pleaded guilty on February 14 to defrauding the NHS by working for an agency when on long term sick leave.

Ms Nyamunokora, who started working for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in July 2011, resigned from her post in April 2013.

At court she faced charges of Fraud by Failing to Disclose Information.

The NHS Counter Fraud Service was tipped off that Ms Nyamunokora was working for agency A24 Group while on sick leave from the Trust.

Investigations revealed Ms Nyamunokora had been absent from her employment at Cheltenham General Hospital since 24 August 2012.

During this time she submitted five ‘Fitness for Work forms’ issued by her registered General Practitioner on the understanding she was not fit for work due to depression.

She also submitted a sickness certificate issued by a Doctor in Zimbabwe, where she went on holiday during her sickness absence.

The court heard that during her long period of sickness absence Ms Nyamunokora worked for A24 Group on 61 occasions and had even increased her normal shift pattern with them.

She also falsely claimed compassionate leave due to the death of her mother.

The investigation revealed her mother was fit and well and living in Essex.

Before she went on sick leave, Ms Nyamunokora was also granted paid carers’ leave to look after her young son.

However, investigators discovered her only child had left UK to live in Zimbabwe shortly after Ms Nyamunokora started working for the trust and prior to her request for carers’ leave.

Due to her dishonest actions, she caused a financial loss to the Trust totalling £4,716.98.

This case has now been reported to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the body with whom all nurses must be registered to practice in the UK.

They will consider whether Ms Nyamunokora is fit to continue to practice as a registered nurse.

NHS Counter Fraud Specialist Lee Sheridan, said: “Ms Nyamunokora worked in a position of Trust.

"She consistently lied to both her GP and employer regarding her employment, child care needs and the death of her mother and as a result has exploited a service funded by the taxpayer.

" She also showed disregard for her colleagues who had to cover her absence.”

Lee Sheridan also praised the actions of the whistle blower, stating:

“Both the Trust and the Local Counter Fraud Service depend on the honest majority reporting concerns, no matter how small they may seem at the time.

Without the help of whistleblowers frauds such as this could go undetected.

“The Gloucestershire NHS Counter Fraud Service is working with all health bodies to protect against fraud and to make it even harder for fraudsters to strip the NHS of its essential assets.”