A hospital manager escaped jail after being caught using the NHS budget to pay for his personal wish-list of tools.

Nicky Irwin, an Electrical and Biomedical Engineering (EBME) Manager, was caught after he spent £3,746 of NHS money on goods "for his own private use".

The fraudster was given 175 hours of unpaid work at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday (January 16) after being caught by N otting Hill Police and counter fraud specialists.

He was also sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

The judge ruled that any compensation will have to be pursued through the Civil Courts.

Irwin was part of the Imperial Healthcare Trust

Local Counter Fraud Specialist Gary Sommerford, based at the Hammersmith Hospital, led the investigation into Irwin with support from police and the national level counter fraud agency, NHS Protect.

The investigation found that a large number of items had been ordered by Irwin where the purchase orders contained part numbers only and no description of goods.

These items were described on the system as "spares", yet gave no indication of what department required them, and all were purchased using the Clinical Technical Services (Clinical Engineering) Department’s own cost code.

All were purchased from the same supplier.

By looking up the part numbers on the supplier’s website, LCFS Gary Sommerford worked out that the goods were not ordinarily required by the department.

They included things such as electrical plugs and sockets, plumbing materials and power tools, and having been delivered, could not be physically traced anywhere on the premises.

He was in a 'vital and highly trusted position'

Courts heard how Irwin was in a "vital and highly trusted position", responsible for servicing and maintaining medical equipment and in charge of the operations of all Clinical Technical Services Departments.

Mark Howard, NHS Protect’s Area Anti Fraud Specialist for London, said today: "This is a good example of a locally led NHS fraud investigation where the Local Counter Fraud Specialist and police worked closely together."

This is the second time in recent weeks that an NHS technical manager has been brought to justice for abusing their position of trust.

It follows the jailing of Alan Hodge in December, who was the Renal Technical Department Manager of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, in charge of maintaining dialysis equipment.

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