The head of orthotics for Nottingham University Hospitals trust has lost his job and been handed a suspended 12 month prison sentence for defrauding the NHS of more than £21,000.

Peter Crocker abused his position at Queen’s Medical Centre to favour private patients and the Head 2 Toe supplies company he co-directed, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

Mr Crocker, 54, of Scraptoft, headed the orthotics department, including a workshop that made leg and neck braces and special insoles, from 1999 to 2008.

In 2000, he was allowed to use NHS facilities for private clients on condition he paid for doing so and there was no impact on services to NHS patients.

But he was not invoiced until April 2002 - for a fraction of the amount due - and failed to inform business managers of the original agreement.

He also earned £5,000 as a lecturer at Salford University during paid NHS time and submitted duplicate travel expenses to the university and the trust. In 2006, he marketed Head 2 Toe in paid NHS time, visiting orthotics companies in France and Germany to promote the company.

Meanwhile, he failed to reimburse the NHS for 350 devices made for private clients, at a cost of £28,000, which he sold to his private patients at an average mark-up of 50 per cent.