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A little white lie doesn’t hurt anyone, or so most people think. But Peter Knight, ex-chief information and digital officer at Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust, as well as a former employee of the Department of Health, lived to regret his, as he was spared jail this week.

Mr Knight was given a suspended prison sentence for having lied on his CV about having a classics degree when he applied for the OUH role.

On Thursday, judge Nigel Daly said a prison sentence was “unavoidable” but reduced the term to reflect Mr Knight’s guilty plea. He later warned: “There is no second chance [after this]; this is your second chance.”

The court heard that Mr Knight, who appeared in court on one count of fraud by false representation, had become a “broken man” following the charge, having split from his wife and attempted to take his own life on two occasions.

Some HSJ readers, commenting on our coverage, felt the punishment was excessive for the crime. One wrote: “Dismissal is enough. His whole life is shattered. I’ve seen far more lenient sentences for [other] serious crime, which this clearly is not.”

Another commented: “Of course you can’t tolerate fraud, but this person has been given a thorough kicking while down and out, and it does not look pretty.”

Others have disagreed — pointing out that Mr Knight’s untruth, perhaps believed only because of his apparent status and background, stopped someone else securing the role, who might have been properly qualified.

OUH told HSJ the trust has since applied for compensation for the costs of the investigation it opened into the incident and for the salary it paid to Mr Knight during his employment, which he was remunerated with a base salary of £130,000 per year. The proceeds of crime hearing is scheduled for May 21.

Rampton under the spotlight

The same week Channel 4 broadcasted its documentary on Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, shining a light on the personal mental health crises of its patients, the Care Quality Commission published another report on the troubled Rampton Hospital secure hospital, also part of the trust.

This report, although not changing the hospital’s “inadequate” rating, found there were still serious staff shortages, resulting in compromised safety.

The CQC also highlighted a “dilute” skill mix between registered nurses and health care assistants, which was also raised as a concern.

In the regulator’s highly critical report from October 2019, racism directed at patients from staff members was raised, and again some patients said this was an enduring problem, surely something that will concern the trust’s fairly new leadership team.

It is important to note the CQC welcomed the creation of an improvement board, significant changes made to leadership and better involvement of patients in decision making, but it is clear the trust has some way to go in making the urgent improvements needed.