An Essex dentist was sentenced to four months imprisonment earlier this month at Chelmsford Crown Court, charged with defrauding the NHS of £10,000 through false accounting.
This was following an investigation by NHS Counter Fraud (NHS CF).
Geoffrey O’Sullivan has repaid £23,651.32 to the NHS and now faces a disciplinary hearing by the General Dental Council (GDC).
More than 400 false claims for treating NHS dental patients, many of them children, were made at O’Sullivan’s Princel Lane Dental Surgery in the village of Dedham.
A NHS CF expert dentist examined a number of children registered at O’Sullivan’s surgery and found that expensive fissure sealant had been falsely claimed for many, including some with perfectly healthy teeth that had received no treatment at all.
North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Dental Services (DS) for England and Wales were alerted to some suspicious claims for payment by a former employee of O’Sullivan’s.
DS then visited the surgery as part of a separate enquiry about dental treatment for children and called in NHS CF’s specialist Dental Fraud Team in October 2006.
Analysis of a sample of patient records, alongside claims made to DS, identified over £6,000 of suspected false claims covering 40 records.
On behalf of NHS CF, Essex Police arrested O’Sullivan on 13 February 2007 for conspiracy to defraud, searched the practice and seized all patient records.
Interviewed later at Colchester Police Station, he admitted that false claims had been submitted to DS between 2002 and 2006.
NHS CF gathered evidence, interviewed patients and analysed further record cards, finding a total of 447 false claims made between July 2000 and April 2006, worth £23,651.32.
Head of the NHS CF Dental Fraud Team, Stephen McKenzie, said: ‘People who provide medical and dental treatment to our children are rightly expected to have the highest integrity. This case is a reminder that dentists are being monitored and, if they do commit fraud, can expect NHS CF to pursue all available sanctions against them.’