A HOSPITAL consultant from the Ribble Valley who scammed an NHS trust out of £24,000 for out-of-hours X-ray work has been blasted by health chiefs.

John Coffey, 53, was paid £4 a time to review and report on medical scans at Royal Preston Hospital, according to fraud investigators.

But the consultant radiologist, of Goose Lane, Chipping, carried out the bulk of the work during his regular shift before submitting his work after 5pm, NHS Protect officials said.

Coffey admitted to a charge of fraud when he appeared at Preston Crown Court and has been remanded on bail until March 3 for sentence.

Bosses at NHS Protect, which monitors health service fraud, said Coffey was supposed to carry out the review work after his normal shift, to help clear a backlog of cases.

But instead he would almost complete the work on each film then go back into the hospital’s clinical system and approve the results shortly after 5pm.

On a single day in March 2014, Coffey reviewed and reported on 100 x-rays during his normal working hours, causing a £400 loss to the NHS.

An investigation discovered he had been carrying out the fraud between autumn 2013 and autumn 2014, increasing his earnings over the course of the year by £23,916.

Sue Frith, NHS Protect’s managing director, said: “John Coffey abused his position of trust as a consultant radiologist to defraud the NHS of nearly £24,000. That much could have paid a nurse for a year.”

Karen Swindley, the hospital’s workforce director, said: “We take extremely seriously our responsibilities to ensure public money is spent wisely and in accordance with the law and with our policies.

“Our robust systems and practices enable us to identify and immediately investigate any potential fraudulent activity within our organisation.

“When we identified an anomaly in the financial claims made our counter-fraud specialists immediately undertook a thorough investigation, and subsequently referred the matter to the police.

“While this was ongoing Mr Coffey resigned from his position and we can confirm he no longer works at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.”