NHS England’s former head of leadership is facing jail after admitting his part in a multimillion pound fraud.
Neil Wood was part of a group of people convicted of unlawfully taking money from NHS England and Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust over a number of years.
Wood pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position and his plea can now be reported after a number of his associates were convicted at Leeds Crown Court late last month.
The deception revolved around payments made for training videos featuring his wife, who has pleaded guilty to money laundering.
Wood worked for NHS England from April 2013 to June 2014, when he was suspended. Before that he had worked for the FT.
Simon Higginbotham, specialist fraud lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Neil Wood used his position to syphon off millions of pounds from the NHS for his own benefit. The fraud is staggering – Wood outsourced services which could have been undertaken in-house so that his wife, friends and contacts received vast sums of money they were not entitled to.
“However, of the money his friends received, Neil Wood more often than not received a 50 per cent cut. In total, over £3m was fraudulently spent in this way, and Neil Wood received over half of that.”
NHS England would not at first make any comment on the case or say how Wood’s team was while head of leadership at the organisation. It would also not confirm what its budget was, who his line manager was or his paygrade.
The organisation has now confirmed Wood’s role was paid at band 8C. A spokeswoman confirmed hHe had no line management responsibility and was not a direct budget holder. She added that as a “head of service”, his role was a standalone post, and was based within the former HR & Organisational Development directorate, which was subsequently absorbed into the Transformation and Corporate Operations directorate. The post was removed as part of the restructuring.
Leeds and Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust said it would not answer these questions or reveal whether they had taken any action to prevent a repetition of the crime until Wood is sentenced on 8 January.