The former practice manager of a Lincolnshire GP surgery was yesterday (Thursday) jailed after admitting taking more than a quarter of a million pounds from the practice.
Stuart Coffey, 44, of Bede Close, Quarrington, near Sleaford, took so much money from the Bracebridge Health Medical Practice over a five year period that the organisation was left in financial difficulties.
Coffey was jailed for two years and eight months after admitting a charge of fraud between 2008 and 2013 and accepted taking £244,000.
Jonathon Dee, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Coffey transferred large amounts of cash into his own bank account which he was not entitled to receive.
The fraud went on for five years and only came to light after Coffey resigned his position and moved to take up a new post.
Staff then discovered the rent had not been paid and a large number of invoices were outstanding.
Mr Dee said: “Generally the doctors were aware of financial difficulties but were not aware why.
“It only became clear once a new practice manager took over and she soon saw there had been irregularities in the accounts.
“Most worryingly the practice was in rent arrears of £37,000.”
“It led to a deeper review of the accounts. That showed that for a period of five years and pretty much consistently over that five years the defendant had been stealing from the practice. He had been making a large number of unauthorised payments to himself.”
Recorder Stuart Sprawson, passing sentence, told him: “This was deliberate. It was clearly planned.”
Mark Harries, defending, said that Coffey was ashamed and disgusted with himself for what he did.
He said Coffey was struggling to pay his mortgage and got himself heavily into debt simply trying to maintain a normal lifestyle.
“When he took the advance payment he genuinely intended to make repayments. He had no intention that it would escalate. Not only is he ashamed with himself but he is disgusted with himself.”
Mr Harries added that Coffey, who had no previous convictions, still has debts of £80,000.
After the hearing Denise Bluck, the current practice manager at the surgery, said: “This has clearly had a significant impact on the practice. We would like to reassure patients that we are working hard to deal with these impacts and remain committed to providing a high quality service for all.”