Builder in dishonest NHS compensation case

Date published:

A builder from Ross-on-Wye was fundamentally dishonest about his injuries in his attempt to claim more than half-a-million pounds in compensation from Wye Valley NHS Trust, a judge has ruled.

Sean Murphy brought a claim against the trust, alleging breach of duty in surgical repair of a left biceps tendon rupture in March 2017. He claimed that the injury permanent damaged his left arm, rendering him unable to return to work as a builder, and that he could not return to playing rugby, attend the gym or enjoy fully engaging with his young family as he had before the injury.

Mr Murphy, 37, sought damages in excess of £580,000 for his injuries, including for alleged lost earnings until retirement, care and assistance until the age of 70.

Wye Valley NHS Trust had admitted that surgery on 31 March 2017 was not performed to an acceptable standard, and that Mr Murphy had suffered injury as a consequence. The trust apologised for that failure, and interim payments for Mr Murphy’s damages and costs were paid to his solicitors at the time.

Following the trust’s admission, NHS Resolution subsequently determined that Mr Murphy was exaggerating his injuries. Investigations showed that he was, in fact, able to work, play rugby and go to the gym.

At the trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, on 11 and 12 October 2022, the Deputy High Court Judge Mr Healy-Pratt found the evidence obtained and disclosed of the claimant playing rugby, weight lifting and working was “… unambiguous and damning …”, and his assertions that he could not do any of those things were “… wholly false.” The Judge assessed that if the claim had been honestly presented it would have been worth no more than 0.85% of the total claimed, and concluded that the damages claim actually presented was “… fraudulent on a massive scale.” Accordingly, he dismissed the claim on grounds of fundamental dishonesty.

Mr Murphy was ordered to repay the interim payments for damages of £40,000 and legal costs of £10,000 that had been paid on behalf of the trust, within 30 days. The Court also awarded the trust its legal costs of the action, to be assessed on the indemnity basis.

Helen Vernon, Chief Executive of NHS Resolution, said: “This was a blatant attempt to obtain compensation from the NHS by dishonest means. While we will continue to compensate genuine claimants fairly, we will not hesitate to take firm action where there is fraud and exaggeration.”

Wye Valley NHS Trust Managing Director Jane Ives, said fraud took money away from providing services for all: “The NHS is for everyone and this kind of fraudulent behaviour means there is less money to spend providing the care and treatment that people need. This Trust will not hesitate in taking action against anyone making fraudulent claims.”


Notes to editors

The Judge’s comments “that if the claim had been honestly presented it would have been worth no more than 0.85%” means this equates to £4,250.