Sussex finance head jailed for £2.2m NHS fraud

Court news.
Court news.

A former head of financial accounting at an NHS Trust in East Sussex who defrauded the NHS of £2.2 million has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Trevor Barry Cosson, 38, of Hastings, pleaded guilty to offences under the Fraud Act (2006) and Proceeds of Crime Act (2002) to defraud East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust and Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust of £2.2 million.

He used the money to buy an extensive portfolio of 11 properties in East Sussex and London.

The fraud was discovered after a restructure of the PCTs that Trevor Cosson previously worked for.

The PCTs were disbanded and a new organisation was created – Sussex and Surrey Commissioning Support Unit – which had responsibility for financial matters.

An end-of-year audit carried out by the new body revealed suspicious payments of hundreds of thousands of pounds. The matter was then referred to NHS Protect for investigation, who gathered evidence of further fraudulent activities by Cosson.

Cosson manipulated the internal payments systems of both of the PCTs he worked for. Standing orders were set up in the name of regular suppliers but the payments were actually credited to bank accounts controlled by Cosson.

Between 2008 and 2011 Cosson authorised £810,000 worth of standing order payments, and £1.4m worth of payments between 2011 and 2012 via an internal payments system.

Sue Frith, Head of the National Investigation Service at NHS Protect said, “Mr Cosson’s dishonesty resulted in the theft of over £2m from two local health bodies.

“He abused his position of trust so that he could live a lifestyle that he could not afford. Stealing from the NHS is not a victimless crime as this money could have been used to provide healthcare locally.

“The sentence reflects the seriousness of Cosson’s crime and will act as a deterrent to others.”