A COMMUNITY nurse sister has avoided jail despite pleading guilty to using her expertise to defraud the NHS of more than £10,000.

Mum-of-one Jacqueline Shacklady, 51, of Greenfield, Caerleon admitted fiddling the NHS’ time sheets system on 72 occasions to enhance her band seven pay packet after getting into financial difficulties.

She also claimed enhanced payments by telling bosses she had worked weekends and bank holidays when she had actually been at home or on holiday, and claimed travel expenses for a medical conference she never attended.

Shacklady, who was based at Caldicot Health Centre, Monmouthsire, had worked for the NHS since 2010, was only caught when she suggested a colleague fiddled the system to pay for an insurance excess, leading to another colleague who overheard the conversation to report her.

She was sacked from the NHS after an internal investigation.

At Cardiff Crown Court today Shacklady pleaded guilty to two counts relating to defrauding Aneurin Bevan Health Board out of a total of £10,402.92 from March, 2015 to July, 2016.

Appearing for the prosecution Claire Wilkes explained that Shacklady was effectively a “middle manager” in the NHS, responsible for a team of 15 district nurses.

“The defendant would manage her staff using an online rota,” she said.

“Staff had to submit time sheets for their shifts and claim hours. The defendant filled in all of her own time sheets, but they had to be signed off by a senior manager.

“The defendant’s line manager was a local authority employee who trusted her implicitly. She didn’t check her time sheets and even accepted blank sheets signed in advance. The first her line manager knew was when she was interviewed in relation to this case.”

After the crimes were reported an internal NHS investigation found 29 instances when Shacklady claimed overtime pay when she wasn’t working at all.

South Wales Argus:

On January 20, 2016, she claimed seven-and-a-half hours overtime despite sending emails telling colleagues that she was still on holiday in Cornwall, costing the NHS £235.68.

On October 10, 2016, she claimed three-and-a-half hours when she was actually attending a horse show in Birmingham.

And on July 25 she claimed nine-and-a-half hours when she was sending messages to colleagues about having Sunday lunch with her mum.

Shacklady also claimed 43 enhanced payments for working bank holidays.

As a band seven NHS worker in Wales, Shacklady would have earned between £31,697 and £41,787 a year.

In mitigation Kevin Seal, defending, told the court that Shacklady had gotten herself into “serious financial difficulties”, and likened her to a gambler who was always sure she could pay back the amount stolen.

He added that her fraud had not funded a lavish or extravagant lifestyle.

“She has lost everything. Her job and the trust of her former colleagues,” said Mr Seal.

“She has watched her life fall apart, and her long years of service in the NHS have been wasted.

“Out of pride she tried to maintain the outward appearance of respectability, while coping with the pressures of serious financial difficulties and motherhood.”

“Her main fear is the fate of her six-year-old child, should she be given an immediate custodial sentence.”

Handing down a 12 months sentence, suspended for 12 months, Judge Eleri Rees said she had taken into account Shacklady’s responsibilities as a carer, and her previous good character.

“You were in a senior position with considerable responsibility, and with knowledge that means you would have known that the NHS can ill-afford to lose money at this time.

“You did not fund a lavish lifestyle, but I note that on holiday when you were taking advantage of the system to gain for yourself.

“You didn’t alter your lifestyle when you found yourself in financial difficulties, you just milked the NHS to fund that lifestyle.”

Shacklady will have to wear an electronic tag for 20 weeks, and will be forced to pay costs of £2,516.42, plus a £100 victim surcharge.

She has already repaid the money stolen from the NHS.

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “We have a dedicated fraud investigation team who take appropriate action in cases such as this, where the integrity and actions of a staff member sadly fell far below the standards we expect of our employees. 

“We are pleased to be able to say that the losses incurred in this case have been repaid in full and will be restored to the public purse.”