Norfolk dentist convicted of cheating the NHS
17:19 19 July 2012
Northcliffe Media Ltd.
Two “greedy” dentists - including one from Norfolk - were warned they could face jail after being convicted by a jury of cheating the NHS out of £46,000.
Dr Werner Muller, of Field Dalling Road, Bale, near Fakenham, and Dr John Atkinson were found guilty of a double-charging fraud, by billing the NHS for private work they did at the Clarendon Road dental practice, in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
They played the system to their own advantage for a year-and-a-half after new NHS contracts for dentists were introduced in 2006.
At Leicester Crown Court, Judge Simon Hammond told them: “You’re two highly competent dentists caring for patients.
“But you were working a fiddle. You were greedy. It’s a very sad case and gives me no pleasure. You’re not the only members of the profession who’ve had to face change, and other occupations have also had to change working practices.”
The judge added: “One understands that, but you just have to get on with it.
“By contemporary standards you were both earning pretty good money.
“All sentencing options remain open including custody.”
They were bailed, pending the preparation of reports, and will be sentenced on August 9.
During the month-long trial, Leicester Crown Court was told new NHS contracts in 2006 involved dentists being paid an amount agreed in advance for carrying out a set number of NHS treatments, or Units of Dental Activity (UDA).
The defendants embarked on the scam to prevent them having to pay money back to the NHS for not reaching their agreed UDA targets.
Muller, 45, a married father of four, was on a £271,000 NHS contract.
He was convicted of 20 charges of false accounting relating to 140 fraudulent claims to the health service for work done privately, involving £26,046, during 2006 and 2007.
Atkinson, 64, a married father-of-six and a grandfather-of-five, was on a £130,000 NHS contract.
He was convicted of 17 counts of false accounting, involving 91 fraudulent claims to the NHS, totalling £20,269.
Both men were also convicted of evasion of liability by deception and fraud, relating to their manipulation of the computerised billing system.
They denied all the allegations, telling the jury that the system was extremely confusing.
They claimed they had no idea they were doing anything wrong at the time and did not act dishonestly.
Kevin Dent, prosecuting, told the court: “They were having their cake and eating it at taxpayers’ expense.”
Muller and Atkinson, of Finham Road, Kenilworth, were both self-employed associates at the dental practice in Hinckley.