Dentist Jailed For £1.4m NHS Fraud

Lisa Dowd, Midlands Correspondent

A dentist who conned the NHS out of £1.4m by making false claims for treating patients has been jailed for seven years for conspiracy to defraud.

Between 2006 and 2009, Joyce Trail, from Sutton Coldfield, submitted 7,000 invoices for work she had never done, 100 of which were for patients who were actually dead.

The 50-year-old used patient details, which were unwittingly supplied to her by nursing homes after she contacted them advertising her services, to claim for people she had never met. She also double or triple-claimed for patients she had treated.

Trail was caught during a random check of files at her Birmingham surgery by officials from the NHS Business Services Authority.

When they contacted a supposed patient at a care home, they discovered he had gone private.

When they delved deeper, they found fraud on an industrial scale. They checked 85,000 documents, including patient records and laboratory documents, and 14,000 exhibits to build a case.

After Trail's conviction, Judge Peter Carr said: "You have abused your position as a professional and you abused your position as a dentist.

"You have effectively stolen a large amount of money that was not available to an already overstretched health service."

Robert Lawrence, a dental technician who supplied Trail with dentures, told Sky News that his suspicions were raised when she requested new dentures after six months for some patients, when they should have lasted at least five years.

He explained: "The same patient names were coming through and the new dentures were attached to them.

"Joyce was asking us to make new dentures and when we brought it up with her that these dentures hadn't been worn, we were told: 'Never mind. Mind your own business - just make them'."

The court was told that Trail spent money on "globetrotting", Jimmy Choo shoes, Cartier jewellery and Prada clothes. She lived in a £1m, six-bedroom gated home.

Her daughter, Nyri Sterling, 33, from Oldbury, West Midlands, who worked in the administration side of the business, was sentenced to two years for helping her mother.