Practice Manager jailed for £46k fraud at Old School Practice

A surgery practice manager has been jailed for stealing £46,000 from its accounts

This is an edited version of an item posted in The York Press.

James Collumb, 54 of Barwick-in-Elmet, threatened to sue the Old School Practice, Copmanthorpe, through an employment tribunal when it queried his overtime claims.

He didn’t tell the surgery management he had already used his access to the surgery finances to divert a £40,000 City of York Council refund that should have been paid to NHS England into his own bank account.

Nor did he tell them how he had duplicated payments to legitimate suppliers with identical ones to the same account and continued to do so while on sick leave.

Defence solicitor advocate Mark Foley said: “He recognises it is somewhat amoral.”

He said Collumb had used the money to meet credit card debts and now faced bankruptcy as he still owed more than £80,000.

“He was a broken man, his mind wasn’t working properly,” he said. “He was affected by physical ill health, mental ill health and the strains and stresses of crippling debt.”

His problems had begun with a pub venture that left him heavily in debt.

Collumb pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud by abuse of position committed between March 23, 2017 and October 24, 2018. He has been jailed for 20 months.

Collumb faces a confiscation hearing next year. Mr Foley said he could repay all the money from his equity in his marital home.

His wife was divorcing him after hearing about his fraud.

Nick Adlington, prosecutor, said Collumb joined the practice in March 2014 and accused others of “micro-managing” him if they tried to be involved in his work.

When he put in claims for overtime while on sick leave, the operations manager raised concerns with the practice’s partners and started checking the accounts.

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That led to the discovery that legitimate payments by the surgery were duplicated by identical amounts described in the same way but paid into an unknown account, including one while Collumb was off sick.

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