(Image: Reach Commissioned/Steve Bainbridge)

A registered nurse has been removed from the profession due to her involvement in a £50,000 overtime scam. Patience Machingauta was found to have fraudulently claimed pay for 144 shifts that she did not work at the renowned A&E department of Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire over two years from 2017 to 2019.

Luton and Dunstable Hospital’s A&E, which handles an impressive 18,000 patients monthly, was previously lauded by MPs as a model for other hospitals, being the best-performing in England at the time. Unfortunately, during this period, Machingauta was manipulating the system to her advantage.

Health investigators discovered that Machingauta had been deceiving the NHS since 2015, a decade after she had qualified as a nurse. During her tenure in the A&E, she utilized her computer access to the staffing system to falsely claim payment for shifts she did not undertake. Even when she moved to a different department, she continued her deceptive practices by using a colleague’s login credentials.

The fraudulent activities came to light when a senior sister noticed disparities between the online roster and handwritten entries in the emergency department’s diary. Upon investigation, it was revealed that Machingauta had been claiming “ghost shifts” that were subsequently removed, leaving no trace in the system, reported Mirror.

When confronted about discrepancies related to five shifts in January 2019, Machingauta initially asserted that she had been engaged in training rather than working in the A&E. However, further investigation led health authorities to uncover the extent of her deceptive practices. Machingauta ultimately admitted to a “genuine error” and agreed to repay £36,702 to the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, from which she was subsequently terminated.

While Machingauta did not appear before the Nursing and Midwifery Council disciplinary panel, she expressed remorse in a letter, acknowledging the gravity of her actions and the damage done to her reputation. The disciplinary panel concluded that Machingauta was well aware of her dishonest actions, pursued them for significant personal financial gain, and took deliberate steps to conceal her misconduct.

Despite the case being referred to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, the Trust claimed ignorance of any criminal actions and chose not to provide further comments on the matter. When approached at her residence, Machingauta declined to comment on the situation.

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