Practice manager ordered to pay back £167,000

Credit: This story was first seen on the Ipswich Star

A former practice manager for an Ipswich doctors surgery has been ordered to pay back £167,000 of the £264,000 she embezzled from her employer, the Ipswich Star reports.

This was from equity in her home, money in Lloyds, Santander and Nationwide bank accounts, cash seized by police, and the money in four pension plans.

There is also a further pension with the NHS. However, the proceeds of crime act does not allow recovery of assets from NHS pensions, although there is an opportunity to apply to the NHS pensions regulator for the money, the court heard.

Last year 56-year-old Heath admitted an offence of theft by employee between 2009 and 2014 from Burlington Primary Care in Burlington Road. She was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

During her confiscation hearing it was said Heath’s benefit from her crime was £263,802.90.

Judge David Goodin approved a confiscation order for the sum of £166,992 to be paid within three months. An application can be made by Heath for a further three months to pay if necessary.

Failure to hand over the money within the timeframe specified will lead to two years’ imprisonment in default.

During her sentencing in September the court heard Heath, who earned £38,000 per annum, gave herself a 50% pay rise after being told her salary was not going to be increased. She also made unauthorised monthly payments totalling more than £20,000 into her bank account.

Heath, who worked at the health centre for more than 20 years, also paid herself thousands of pounds of unrecorded and unauthorised overtime.

Heath’s dishonesty came to light in 2014 after she underwent major surgery and a doctor became suspicious after looking at the practice’s accounts.

Sentencing Heath to her suspended sentence Judge Goodin described what she had done as “beneath contempt”.

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He added Heath had betrayed her colleagues and the doctors who employed her.

“They must feel entirely betrayed by you, because they were,” he said.

Heath was also given a six-month electronically-monitored curfew from 7pm-7am.