A PSYCHIATRIST defrauded the NHS out of £16,000 by doing private work while he was supposedly off sick – and by using a Warwick hospital’s facilities to see his private patients.
Dr Nawshad Suleman, who was based at St Michael’s psychiatric hospital, had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of fraud.
But just days before he was due to stand trial he changed his pleas to guilty on two of the charges, and the remaining allegation was allowed to lie on the court file.
The 65 year-old of Beaminster Road, Solihull, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
The disgraced consultant, who has repaid the £16,074 he made from his dishonesty, was also ordered to pay £2,800 costs.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Power said Suleman had worked as a consultant psychiatrist with the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust since 2000.
But from April 2013 he was repeatedly declared unfit for work because of stress, and there were a succession of sick notes between then and November that year.
And over that period he continued to be paid, receiving a total of £13,331 in sick pay.
But it was discovered that at a time he was supposedly too ill to work, he was actually undertaking privately paid consultations, including providing reports for a company on patients referred to him.
After an investigation was launched, it was found that on 16 occasions between January 2012 and April 2013 he had undertaken private consultations using the facilities at St Michael’s – and at a time when he should have been doing NHS Trust work.
In doing so and not declaring it, Suleman defrauded the Trust out of the £2,742 he should have paid for the use of his consulting room for private work.
The court heard he had no other convictions, and Recorder Kevin Hegarty QC commented: “He is a professional man of previous unblemished character whose career has come to an ignominious conclusion.”
Marios Lambis, defending, handed in a large number of character references, and added for many years Suleman had undertaken a great deal of charitable work, including helping a children’s cancer charity, helping feed the destitute in Birmingham one evening a week, and assisting Syrian refugees on Lesvos.
Sentencing Suleman, Recorder Hegarty told him: “You have now lost your good name, and you have brought shame on you and your family by virtue of your dishonesty.
“There are many people who have stepped forward to write references on your behalf who have known you for many years and have known you do so many good works at a cost to yourself – and those people cannot believe what you have done.
“The Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, like all hospital trusts and many other employers who engage professional people, rely on them to get on with their work and to do it in an honest way.
“They cannot be checking up on people in high positions all the time, they have to trust them; and you let your judgement lapse and put the prospect of getting a few extra pounds before honesty and before your good name.
“The frauds relied on your position and the esteem in which you were held, and you were trusted, but you repeated the frauds many times.”