A former IT manager of an NHS trust has pleaded guilty to defrauding his employer of more than £800,000.

Barry David Stannard, of Chelmsford in Essex, pleaded guilty to four offences at Chelmsford Crown Court on May 26, including two charges of fraud by false representation and two charges of cheating the public revenue.

Stannard was head of unified communications at Mid Essex Hospital Trust when he submitted a “nil return” declaration of interests to his employer. An investigation later confirmed he was the director of two companies that financially benefited from the trust between 2012-2019.

He defrauded his employer of £806,229, which came out of the trusts IT budget.

No products or services invoiced for by these companies were ever provided to the NHS.

The invoices were for small amounts, meaning Stannard was able to sign them off without further checks from the trust, which has since been merged into Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

Concerns first arose when the trust ran a data matching exercise on its payroll and accounts payable records, alongside Companies House records, according to a statement from the NHS Counter Fraud Authority.

Initial enquiries were conducted by the Local Counter Fraud Specialist provider but was escalated to the national NHS Counter Fraud Authority when the scale of the losses emerged.

On the invoices submitted to the trust Stannard also charged VAT which was never forwarded to HMRC.

The VAT registration number quoted on some of the invoices was false and related to another legitimate company.

The VAT Stannard charged the NHS topped more than £132,000, which was included in the £806,229 total that Stannard admitted to defrauding the NHS.

Stannard is due to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court for sentencing on June 30, 2021.