South East Wales

GP identity plea after Andrew Cunningham fraud case

GP practices should ask for proof of identity before registering anyone as a patient, an NHS official has urged.

Lee Sheridan, of Gloucestershire Local Counter Fraud Service (LCFS), spoke after a Cardiff man used false details to obtain prescriptions from 42 GP practices.

Andrew Cunningham, 46, of Rhiwbina, Cardiff, was sentenced after admitting fraud at Cardiff Crown Court.

Mr Sheridan said the LCFS was working to help practices reinforce procedures.

Cunningham was arrested in October 2010 after an investigation by the Gloucestershire LCFS with their counterparts at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and South Wales Police.

He used a variety of false names and elaborate stories to obtain prescriptions from practices and present them at pharmacies in 10 counties across England and Wales, said the health board.

These included claims that he was a stuntman working on a new James Bond movie, that he was a former marine and weapons expert and that his son and nephew had just died in Afghanistan, the board said.

In total Cunningham obtained over 22,000 tablets in addition to those he was obtaining at the same time from his own registered GP, said the board.

The health board said he was sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay a total of £4,000 in fines and compensation.

Mr Sheridan said: "This type of fraud demonstrates why it is so important for GP practices to ask for proof of identity before registering anyone as a patient and anyone who commits fraud in this way should expect to be prosecuted.

"We are currently working with GP practices to reinforce their procedures for checking the identity of all would-be temporary and permanent patients."

Craig Greenstock, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board's local counter fraud specialist, commented: "This was a long and detailed investigation and shows how we are working together with partners across the UK to identify and tackle fraud against the NHS."

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