A former head of financial accounting at two East Sussex NHS trusts has been jailed for over five years for stealing £2.2 million of NHS funds.

Trevor Barry Cosson, from Hastings, worked for East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust (PCT), and Hastings and Rother PCT when he took the money, which he used to buy 11 properties in Sussex and London.

The 38-year-old admitted the charges following an investigation by NHS Protect and was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court to five years and four months in prison.

The fraud investigation body discovered Cosson manipulated the internal payments systems of the PCTs by setting up standing orders in the names of regular NHS suppliers but paying the money into his own bank accounts, the BBC reports.

Sue Frith, head of the National Investigation Service at NHS Protect said:

“Mr Cosson’s dishonesty resulted in the theft of over £2m from two local health bodies. He abused his position of trust so that he could live a lifestyle that he could not afford.”

Between 2008 and 2011, Cosson is said to have authorised £810,000 of standing order payments, and £1.4 million worth of payments via and internal system between 2011 and 2012.

Ms Frith continued:

“Stealing from the NHS is not a victimless crime as this money could have been used to provide healthcare locally. The sentence reflects the seriousness of Cosson’s crime and will act as a deterrent to others.”

Plans are under way to sell the properties in order to reclaim the funds taken.

Photo by Chris Miller