Jail sentence for multi-million pound attempt to claim damages from NHS

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At a committal hearing on Thursday 26 May 2022, Holly White was sentenced to six months in jail for deliberately attempting to defraud the NHS of in excess of £4 million. She has also been ordered to pay back £45,000 of interim payments, and meet the trust’s costs of the committal application.

NHS Resolution pursued committal proceedings on behalf of North Bristol NHS Trust in line with its strategy to combat and deter fraud by dishonest claimants.

The court found White, 29, had knowingly exaggerated the effect of injuries sustained from a delay in diagnosing spinal cord compression (cauda equina syndrome), arising from care provided in 2011.  White, from Rackenford, North Devon, had her claim struck out by the court previously.

Video surveillance showed that while White claimed to have mobility issues and had to use a crutch, she walked normally without assistance.

In his remarks to her in court, His Honour Mr Justice Ritchie said that White does “present a risk to the public purse and public institutions as a result of your approach to your clinical negligence claim against a tax payer funded organisation.”

He added that her “contempts were deliberate and for your own benefit”, commenting “‘Miss White dishonestly and intentionally made false statements … those statements were made knowing that they would interfere with the administration of justice … this is not a case of mere exaggeration. The falsehoods propagated by Miss White and admitted to by her go far beyond exaggeration.”

In final remarks he told her: “I do not consider that suspending the sentence will get the message across to you sufficiently strongly that: defrauding the NHS, which is funded by the taxpayer is utterly unacceptable. Nor would it send out the right message to those currently suing NHS trusts or those who will do so in future.”

NHS Resolution does not take decisions lightly to commence Committal Proceedings, however, given the extent of the damages sought by the claimant in this case, it was felt this was appropriate action. This is a stark reminder to potential claimants in clinical negligence matters of the need to remain honest as to the extent of the damage and losses incurred. These proceedings should not deter genuine claimants, as the trust and NHS Resolution will continue to ensure that those who have suffered injury as a result of substandard medical care are properly compensated.

Helen Vernon, Chief Executive of NHS Resolution

This was not a decision we took lightly, but it was important due to the size of the claim and the dishonesty involved. These proceedings should not deter genuine claimants as the Trust and NHS Resolution will continue to ensure that those who have suffered injury are appropriately compensated.

A North Bristol NHS Trust spokesperson