Portsmouth GP who gambled away £1.1m of NHS money is jailed

1 year ago 114

A elder GP who stole much than £1m of NHS wealth to money an addiction to online gambling has been jailed for 3 years and 4 months.

Dr Rumi Chhapia, 45, embezzled the wealth from a healthcare radical arsenic helium chased jackpots connected net slot machines and roulette. He began defrauding the radical of GP surgeries successful Hampshire arsenic soon arsenic helium was enactment successful complaint of its accounts, leaving its finances successful disarray and different directors needing therapy.

Unusually, gambling companies person agreed to wage backmost £904,000 of the wealth aft Chhapia, who himself earned astir £200,000 a year, wrote letters to them.

Chhapia, a begetter of one, co-founded Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance (PPCA), a radical of 16 GP surgeries successful the Hampshire city. In August past year, the antheral who was successful complaint of its finances was signed disconnected sick and Chhapia volunteered to negociate its accounts.

When a workfellow spotted that wealth was vanishing, Chhapia claimed helium was the unfortunate of cyber transgression and continued to embezzle funds, authoritative Matthew Lawson said. Police investigated and Chhapia admitted: “I fucked up.”

His fraud was described astatine Portsmouth crown tribunal arsenic “relatively unsophisticated” arsenic helium simply transferred wealth into accounts successful his ain name. Of the wealth helium embezzled, helium gave backmost £238,000 and gambling companies volition wage backmost £904,000.

Lawson said Chhapia’s online gambling addiction escalated truthful severely helium remortgaged his home, sold his car and failed to wage backmost friends who loaned him implicit £300,000.

Mark Swindells, a PPCA director, told the court: “The fiscal interaction was profound, the radical of Portsmouth mislaid a sizeable chunk of NHS money. Although we are financially solvent, it’s reduced the wide fund and caused currency travel issues.”

Stan Reiz QC, defending, said Chhapia felt helium was “one triumph away” from fiscal security. “He entered into a desperation signifier and thought the adjacent stake would beryllium the panacea of each his bets,” the barrister said. “He felt the request to support taking the wealth adjacent aft they raised the alarm to effort and win.”

Reiz said the fraud took spot implicit “six weeks of madness”, adding: “This is an antithetic and tragic case. The references from his esteemed colleagues picture a hardworking and honorable antheral who has acted wholly retired of character.

“For galore years helium gambled for amusive but past progressed to that adjacent signifier and entered the losing signifier erstwhile a gambler begins to pursuit losses.”

Jailing him, Judge Keith Cutler, said: “You abused the spot placed connected you and took £1.13 cardinal from the PPCA, wealth which successful my judgement should person been for GP surgeries to make their services.

“This is simply a precise superior abrogation of your responsibilities arsenic a doctor. Your work should person been to supply the precise champion attraction to your patients and that should person been the pinnacle, but you were dishonest.”

Chhapia, of Portsmouth, resigned from his relation successful October past year. He admitted fraud by maltreatment of position.