A woman with no legal status in the UK, who used forged papers to obtain a nursing place and bursary at Thames Valley University, has been sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment for fraud at Reading Crown Court. The conviction follows an investigation by the NHS Counter Fraud Service.
Student nurse Shupikai Mbizvo, 29, of Montague Road, Slough, cost the NHS £14,500 through her dishonesty. She was found guilty of Using a False Instrument, contrary to Section 3 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.
In March 2005 she successfully applied to study for a Higher Education Diploma in Adult Nursing Partnership at Thames Valley University. To support herself while studying, she also applied for and was awarded an NHS Trust Bursary, including travel costs for work placements.
She provided both the University and NHS Bursaries with a forged Home Office letter stating she had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Settled status was a necessary condition of the university place and grant being given.
Ms Mbizvo was arrested while on placement at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough in March 2008 by Thames Valley Police. At her student accommodation at the hospital, she surrendered a photocopy of a Zimbabwean passport and a UK national insurance card, both in her name, and the forged Home Office Grant of Status Letter showing a date in April 2004.
Nicole McLaughlin, South East Operational Fraud Manager of the NHS Counter Fraud Service, said: "It is not acceptable for anybody to exploit the UK's system of supporting nursing students.
"The NHS Counter Fraud Service will follow up on all allegations of fraud and, wherever appropriate, will investigate and press for prosecution. This outcome sends out a strong deterrent message to anyone considering committing fraud against the NHS."
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I have just got this newsletter and am appalled. Our system of allowing and financing foreign students is open to abuse and should all be overhauled. However, the most frustrating thing about this story is that I am embarking on nurse training and know I cannot expect anywhere near that amount of financial support despite having already worked for 15 years" - Rae, Durham
"It is extremely difficult when honest law-abiding citizens are denied nurse training and others can abuse the system with such dishonesty" - Marion Alleyne, London
"Well, fraud is everywhere in the NHS but not many are persecuted as their position is not lower level. Every single fraud has to be investigated and punished whether PCT employed GP or manager too" - Name and address supplied
"Why was this dishonesty not discovered earlier, many British nationals have been denied access to further education when those certainly not entitled or eligible seem to have what would seem a less rigorous scrutiny of documents etc. I blame the Home Office for their laxed immigration control every other country provide if eligible a visa to visitors for 1-3 months when the UK gives 6 mths thus allowing visitors enough time to overstay and the facility to access other services be it education health legal or social" - V Henry, London
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