ERI worker suspended in fake payments probe

Allegations were made about payments at the ERI. Picture: Cate Gillon
Allegations were made about payments at the ERI. Picture: Cate Gillon
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A SENIOR NHS worker based at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is under investigation over claims he fraudulently arranged to pay himself thousands of pounds for shifts he did not work.

Steven Kerr, who works as a senior supervisor in portering, was suspended after bosses were made aware of the allegations and has since been redeployed in another role with NHS Lothian while an investigation by NHS Scotland’s Counter Fraud Services is carried out.

The investigation comes after NHS Lothian was warned through one of its own internal audits that its systems could be open to abuse from fraudsters in other areas.

It is alleged that Mr Kerr changed computer records so that it appeared he was working night shifts, rather than day shifts, attracting a higher rate of pay.

While the amount Mr Kerr is said to have gained from the alleged scam is not clear, one source said he could have benefited to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds. It is understood that Mr Kerr strenuously denies the allegations against him.

It is understood the allegations against Mr Kerr came about following a check on overtime by a senior member of staff, during which apparent discrepancies are said to have been uncovered.

But a source close to Mr Kerr said the claims would be strongly contested and claimed he may be the victim of a personal vendetta waged by co-workers.

“People are mischief-making and trying to blacken his name,” the source added.

It is understood that Counter Fraud Services has also carried out an investigation into possible fraudulent claims from medical locums in recent months.

Alan Boyter, NHS Lothian’s director of human resources and organisational development, said the health board was assisting with the investigation and confirmed that a staff member had been removed from their usual duties.

He said it would be inappropriate to comment further on any specific case, but that allegations of fraud would always be taken seriously.

Mr Boyter added: “NHS Lothian will not tolerate any form of criminal activity and is fully committed to promoting a counter-fraud culture, investigating any suspicions of fraud and taking immediate action against perpetrators.”

In a report into supplementary staffing, which was completed in June last year, it was warned that staff from the nursing bank were given access to computer systems which could have allowed them to arrange fraudulent payments that may not have been detected.

The previously secret report, which was circulated among senior health bosses in June last year and has been made public through Freedom of Information legislation, said: “Fictitious shifts could be booked and confirmed in the system resulting in fraudulent payments being made to bank staff.

Counter Fraud Services said it was unable to provide any information on ongoing investigations.

Mr Kerr could not be contacted for comment.