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Prison nurse behind bars after defrauding NHS

An NHS substance misuse nurse who worked illegally in Chelmsford prison has been sentenced to a year in prison following an investigation by NHS Counter Fraud and the UK Border Agency.

Definate Tendayi Mukwe’s last leave to remain in the UK expired in February 2003 and she was refused an extension, but in 2004 began training to become a registered nurse. She applied for an NHS student bursary to take a nursing diploma at Thames Valley University, which was awarded on the basis of settled status in the UK, which she claimed using a falsely endorsed passport.

Mukwe, registered as a nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, was arrested at her workplace on 4 December 2008, having been employed at HMP Chelmsford as a Substance Misuse Nurse since June 2008. She had used the same altered Zimbabwean passport, containing a false indefinite leave to remain endorsement, to prove her entitlement to work.

Mukwe initially pleaded not guilty to all charges but, at her trial on 13 May 2008, pleaded guilty to possessing the falsified passport with intent, obtaining the money transfers by deception and overstaying – with the fraud charge relating to her prison employment to lie on file.

She was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment in total - six months for the passport offence and six months for obtaining the money transfers (to be served consecutively) and 21 days for overstaying (to be served concurrently).

Addressing Mukwe, His Honour Judge Gratwicke said that the NHS bursary she obtained of £20,636.00 “is money you are not entitled to – it is not your money”.

Frank Ginnelly, Operational Fraud Manager Eastern, NHS Counter Fraud, said: “It is not acceptable to abuse NHS Student Bursaries in this way. This outcome shows the public that NHS Counter Fraud is vigorous in protecting their precious health resources.”

NHS Counter Fraud Service