Pathology lab worker struck off in fraud case

The NHS
The NHS

A Wigan pathology lab worker who was sacked after she cancelled leave, then failed to show up for work, managed to secure a post at another hospital, a disciplinary tribunal heard.

One biomedical scientist, who knew Marie Fell had been dismissed from the joint pathology service for Wigan and Salford, was surprised to see her working for the microbiology department at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Fell, who submitted a false reference to secure the Lancaster job, has now been struck off by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) following a conduct and competence hearing.

The HCPC committee heard that Fell was also given a conditional discharge, for two offences of theft, by Wigan magistrates in April 2012.

Several witnesses, including the Wigan Infirmary staff member who spotted her in her later role, and managers from Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, were called to give evidence.

Fell submitted a false reference to the Morecambe trust, in which she said she lost her job at Wigan due to “NHS cuts”.

But staff at Wigan confirmed she had been dismissed for “fraudulent behaviour.”

A three-strong HCPC panel heard that over six dates in July, August and September 2011, Fell would cancel leave she had booked, then claim she had been working all day.

An investigation discovered it was apparent Fell’s computer had not been active on any of the days in question, which would have been highly unusual.

She also falsified ‘flexi-time’ records so not only did she accrue seven-and-a-half hours on each occasion, but she also claimed for an extra half-hour each time for being at her desk early.

Seven substantive charges were found proved by the conduct panel, including conclusions

that she had been “dishonest”, her actions constituted misconduct and her fitness to practice was impaired.

Striking her off the medical registers, a HCPC spokesman said: “The registrant’s actions in engaging in repeated acts of dishonesty fell well short of what was proper in the circumstances.

“The registrant stood to gain from her dishonesty and was seemingly uncaring as to the consequences of her actions for others.”