Woman admits health fees fraud

A health professional has admitted fraudulently claiming $66,455 in client fees during a three and a-half-year period.

The 47-year-old woman, whose identity remains suppressed, was facing 229 separate indictably laid charges of dishonestly claiming for care she was either already being paid for, did not have to provide or which was different from the care she actually provided.

Through counsel Anne Stevens in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, the woman accepted a sentence indication of not more than five months' home detention and a term of community work, and pleaded guilty to three representative charges.

She admitted dishonestly using 62 forms between December 31, 2007, and January 15, 2009, to obtain $37,355 for care she was already being paid as an employee to provide.

The second charge related to 158 fraudulent claims made between December 19, 2008, and December 16, 2011, for $25,860 for care which was different from that provided, and the third count encapsulated nine false claims for $3240 of care between August 11, 2008, and June 20, 2011, when the named people were no longer her clients.

A request by Mrs Stevens for continued name suppression until sentence was not opposed by Crown counsel Robin Bates.

The woman's professional organisation would be made aware of the convictions, Mrs Stevens said.

All the money obtained through the false claims has been repaid. On each of the three charges, Judge Michael Crosbie convicted the woman and remanded her for sentence on September 27.

The Crown summary of facts said the Ministry of Health began investigating the woman's actions in August 2010 after receiving anonymous information.

During the investigation, it became apparent that, for most of 2008, she had claimed for providing private care when she was actually being paid as an employee.

She had not applied to her employer for permission to do private work.

She said while she had claimed for work for private clients in 2008, she had considered them to be private clients.

She also said she had checked with her professional organisation as to whether she could do that and had been told she could. She said she had not intentionally claimed for people who had left her care.

She had simply not checked her diary and had put in the wrong date when submitting the claims.

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