A former IT manager of an NHS trust has been jailed for five years after pleading guilty to defrauding his employer of more than £800,000.

Barry Stannard, of Chelmsford in Essex, defrauded his employer of £806,229, which came out of the trust’s IT budget.

He 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.

The 53-year-old was sentenced to five years and four months’ in prison at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday (June 30).

Stannard was head of unified communications at Mid Essex Hospital Trust, which has since been merged into Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation 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.

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

Concerns first arose after the trust ran a data matching exercise on its payroll and accounts payable records, alongside Companies House records.

After a comprehensive initial investigation by the Local Counter Fraud Specialist provider (RSM), the investigation was escalated to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority’s National Investigation Service.

According to NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) the hundreds of invoices submitted by Stannard to Mid Essex Hospital Trust were for small amounts, which allowed him in his managerial position at the trust to sign them off without further checks.

Stannard also charged for VAT on the invoices submitted, but it was never forwarded to the HMRC. The VAT registration number quoted was false and related to another legitimate company.

The VAT he charged the NHS totalled £132,000. This is included in the total of £806,229 Stannard was found guilty of defrauding the NHS.

The NHSCFA said the sentencing comes at a time the authority is renewing its focus on procurement fraud.

Sue Frith, chief executive of the NHSCFA, said: “Barry Stannard abused his position in an outrageous way to line his pockets with money intended for NHS services. We are aware of the significant risk that procurement fraud poses for the NHS, which is why the NHS Counter Fraud Authority has been continually working to develop fraud prevention solutions over the last few years.

“Today’s sentence shows that the NHSCFA’s investigative and preventative work tackling NHS fraud is vital.”

Frith urged anyone who suspects fraud in the NHS to report it via NHSCFA’s corruption reporting hotline 0800 028 40 60. Or you can report fraud online on their website.