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Suspended sentence for nurse-turned trust chief executive

A former NHS chief executive with a background in nursing has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting fraudlently paying her husband more than £11,000 from her budget.
Paula_Vasco-Knight

A former NHS chief executive with a background in nursing has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting fraudulently paying her husband more than 11,000 from her budget.

Paula Vasco-Knight was chief executive of South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, and the national lead for equalities and diversity for NHS England at the time.

She paid her husband, Stephen Vasco-Knight, 11,072 to produce a document named Transform, which was meant to improve leadership qualities in chief executives.

Exeter Crown Court heard the 200-page document was never made and that Dr Vasco-Knight failed to declare any interest in her husbands graphic design company.

The couple, from Liverpool, were put on trial in January accused of fraud but changed their pleas partway through. The sentencing was adjourned until Friday.

Dr Vasco-Knight admitted abusing

A former NHS chief executive with a background in nursing has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting fraudulently paying her husband more than £11,000 from her budget.

Paula_Vasco-Knight
Paula Vasco-Knight received a 16-month sentence, suspended for two years

Paula Vasco-Knight was chief executive of South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, and the national lead for equalities and diversity for NHS England at the time.

She paid her husband, Stephen Vasco-Knight, £11,072 to produce a document named Transform, which was meant to improve leadership qualities in chief executives.

Exeter Crown Court heard the 200-page document was never made and that Dr Vasco-Knight failed to declare any interest in her husband’s graphic design company.

The couple, from Liverpool, were put on trial in January accused of fraud but changed their pleas partway through. The sentencing was adjourned until Friday.

Dr Vasco-Knight admitted abusing her position as chief executive at the trust by authorising an £11,072 payment to her husband for the Transform document. Her husband also pleaded guilty to fraud by submitting a false invoice to the trust for the document in November 2013.

Suspended sentence

Recorder Don Tait gave Mrs Vasco-Knight a 16-month sentence, suspended for two years. Her husband was given a 10-month sentence, also suspended for two years.

Dr Vasco-Knight was ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and her husband 150 hours. They will face Proceeds of Crime Act hearings at a later date.

Passing sentence, the judge told Dr Vasco-Knight: ‘One cannot imagine a more serious abuse of trust and responsibility than your part.

‘You were on a six-figure salary and you arranged for your husband to benefit from a contract of £11,000, money from an NHS budget we all know is under severe pressure for resources.

‘You in particular have fallen a long way from what was expected of you professionally and personally and that is your own fault.’

Humble beginnings

Lloyd Morgan, defending Dr Vasco-Knight, said: ‘She has risen a long way from humble beginnings, overcome many difficulties, both professionally and personally, to reach dizzying heights – more than she would ever have expected – and this is a fall of very great magnitude.

‘She fraudulently and dishonestly went ahead and arranged the payment of this invoice, and it is something she bitterly regrets and will regret for the rest of her life.’

Brendan Carville, representing Mr Vasco-Knight, said: ‘He has had a momentous fall from grace.

‘Prisons in this society are full of people who deserve to be there. These two people have been good to society and of exemplary good character and they have made one slip and although it crosses the custody threshold, it does not mean they deserve to go to prison.’


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