United Kingdom

Doctor given £40,000 in error after losing job claimed payments were gifts from NHS

Dr Haydar Al Nageim failed to flag the administrative error and continued to claim a wage from the Royal Liverpool Hospital after he stopped working there. The deceit lasted 27 months and amounted to £41,000 before it was discovered and the medic was struck off.

The doctor was only rumbled after an investigation into separate allegations that he used accommodation rooms and showers intended for medics on call overnight at the Countess of Chester Hospital, despite not working there.

The Liverpool Echo reports that Dr Al Nageim told fraud investigators: “At the time I received it (the money), I was grateful for it and continued to receive it and I didn’t question it because why would I question a gift horse.”

Last week, Dr Al Nageim appeared at his appeal against the decision to ban him from practice – but the General Medical Council (GMC) said the decision was justified and upheld the ban.

Speaking at the hearing, Judge Mr Justice Julian Knowles said: “His claim that he genuinely thought the payments were some sort of ex gratia ‘kindness’, or a loan by the hospital, and that after he started working in Wrexham in August 2013 it was perfectly in order for him to receive two NHS salaries, was completely absurd.

“He could not have genuinely believed for one second that he was still entitled to be paid by the Royal Liverpool Hospital even after his contract there had come to an end.

“The inescapable fact is that the Appellant was found to have behaved in a sustained and dishonest manner over a period of years and to have pocketed over £41,000 of NHS money which he knew he was not entitled to.

“He frankly admitted that if the payments had continued after April 2015, he would have continued to keep them and would not have reported the matter.”

In August 2012, the doctor moved from the Countess of Chester Hospital to work as a locum junior doctor in the Trauma and Orthopaedic Department at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

But in December 2012 he was told his bosses were not satisfied with his performance and would not be extending his contract.

Dr Al Nageim moved in with his parents in Wirral until August 2013, when he began working as a core surgical trainee in Trauma and Orthopaedics at Wrexham Hospital.

But the doctor’s behaviour began to cause concern in February 2014, when staff at the Chester hospital realised he had been using an out-of-date ID card to access the staff facilities.

Mr Justice Knowles added: “On February 3 2014, the Appellant had been refused access by a security guard (a Mr Bowker) and the police had been called, the Tribunal said that the Appellant accepted that he had tried to access an on-call room.

“It was nearly midnight when the Appellant arrived at the Hospital. He had been accompanied by a female, who had remained in her car.

“The reason the police were called was because by then the Hospital was aware of the issue and was on the look-out for the Appellant.

“He said that he was unable to remember the name or any other identifying features of this female, whom he had arranged to meet at a cinema, other than she was blonde and a nurse.

“He claimed this female simply accompanied him to the Chester Hospital so that, following his enquiries about a room, he could show her the way back to the motorway.

“The Tribunal was understandably sceptical about that story.”

It later emerged that Dr Al Nageim was still receiving a salary from the Royal Liverpool Hospital trust, which had continued until April 2015.

When challenged by fraud investigators, he made bizarre claims that in a meeting to discuss ending his contract, someone from Human Resources told him the payments would be “a kindness” and “a gift”.

He later changed his story and claimed he thought the payments were a loan he would have to pay back.

Dr Al Nageim can no longer practise medicine in the UK.

A spokesperson for Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal, said: “All payments made in error have been recovered and we have strengthened our processes further to stop this happening in the future.”

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