A consultant radiologist has pleaded guilty to defrauding the NHS out of £24,000 after consistently carrying out additional contract work within his normal working hours.

John Coffey was responsible for reviewing and reporting on medical scans at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, but was not contracted to study plain film scans from standard x-rays.

However, he agreed to do so at a rate of £4 per film, outside his working hours, to help his department to clear a waiting list backlog.

NHS Protect, which helped investigate the case, said in a press release: “Previously, (Coffey) had said he was far too busy and without any capacity for any additional duties.

“However, once extra money was made available for the extra work, Coffey completed most of it within his normal working hours. He effectively claimed himself an unearned, unapproved bonus at the hospital’s – and ultimately the taxpayer’s – expense.

“In an audacious yet simple scam, he would line up the almost-completed reports after working on them earlier in the day and wait until 5pm to re-enter the clinical IT system and hit the ‘submit’ button.

“When later challenged, he tried to argue he had technically completed the work after office hours.”

In one day in March 2014, the 53-year-old reviewed and reported on 100 plain film x-rays during a session at the Royal Preston Hospital, when he was supposed to be doing his normal work, NHS Protect said.

It said the series of frauds between autumn 2013 and autumn 2014 increased Coffey’s earnings by £23,916, and he has now admitted to a ‘rolled up’ charge of fraud by false representations.

Coffey, of Goose Lane, Chipping, Preston, is due to be sentenced on March 3.

The case was investigated by local counter fraud specialists Claire Smallman and Simon Regan. The defrauded amount has been recovered in full.