An NHS practice manager who swindled a West Country surgery out of £70,000 has been jailed for 15 months and ordered to repay £48,000.

Richard Matthews, 52, admitted at Truro Crown Court to one count of theft from Rosedean dispensing surgery in Liskeard between 2003 and 2007.

He was found out after a doctor checked the financial records and noticed that considerable amounts of petty cash had disappeared.

NHS Counter Fraud Service spokeswoman Debbie Lloyd said: “It seems there were no direct losses to the NHS, fortunately, but Mr Matthews was a serious drain on the practice’s own funds.

“This outcome is a lesson to others who might think of exploiting a position of trust in a close-knit community. They are likely to be caught, and it will ruin their reputation and career.”

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly director of finance Sally May said: “This conviction sends a clear message that fraud will not be tolerated.

“NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly continues to raise fraud awareness across the local health community through our local counter fraud service.”