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Former nursing student jailed for NHS fraud


A former overseas nursing student at Thames Valley and Surrey universities has been jailed for defrauding the NHS of over £18,000.

Memory Chamboko, 35, of College Town, Owlsmoor, Hampshire, was sentenced to six months in prison this week by Reading Crown Court.

She entered the UK in 2002 on a student visa but stayed on after it ran out, and had a subsequent asylum application refused.

A joint police and NHS Counter Fraud Service investigation found she had defrauded the NHS of £18,699.93 from two student bursaries. She pleaded guilty to seven offences, involving deception and false documentation.

Ms Chamboko started an adult nursing diploma at the University of Surrey in September 2006 and applied for a bursary. She supported her applications with a false Home Office letter stating she had indefinite leave to remain in the UK, which was a condition of acceptance for both the course and bursary.

She received bursary payments of £3,952.81 to cover September 2006 to March 2007 but, following an unsatisfactory Criminal Records Bureau check, she withdrew from the course in March 2007.

Ms Chamboko then fraudulently obtained a place on an adult nursing course at Thames Valley University, which she attended from March 2008 until her arrest two weeks ago on 15 April. For this application she used the name Rutendo Memory Chamboko, giving a different date of birth from that given to Surrey University. As a result she received additional NHS Student Bursary payments of £14,747.12.


Readers' comments (24)

  • GOOD!!!! Pity she can't get a longer sentence....then shipped back to where she came from!!!!

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  • There are MANY more where she came from. It is about time that all employers of foreign nationals looked VERY closely at the documentation they used to obtain their jobs. Two years ago we lost 22 staff as illegal immigrants because of forged /false documentation. Border controls agreed we had done all we could but the forgeries were very good. Most of those we 'sacked' went away, used another name to get a job elsewhere.

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  • hope she's paying back all the bursary- any travel and addittional expences she has managed to get out of us, and the cost of the time it took the mentors to train her.
    with Fruad like this and i know she is not the only one- the money should be used for patient care and CPD for those that are entittled

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  • yes she should be made to pay this back, but that would delay her deportation after her jail sentence, pity she isnt serving her sentence in her home land which would be alot harder than here and we as tax payers wouldnt be paying for her in jail. Im sure there are alot more like her, which is a very worrying thought. More checks should be done, but understand this is difficult.

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  • Why not return this person to where she came from? as she does not have a visa to stay here.
    Again the tax payer is paying for her to be imprisioned here.
    cheaper and more cost efficient to send her back

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  • I agree with the person who said that it would be better to be able to deport someone who has committed a crime in this country rather than imprison them at further UK expense. However, we are indebted to many excellent, honest and dedicated overseas students who subsequently staff our hospitals and community. Let's face it, very sadly, many UK nationals and residents will not contemplate nursing as a career and prefer to opt for less onerous degrees and go into jobs that will ultimately pay better.
    As it is, we almost have to 'bribe' people with a bursary to get enough students. Surely, this is open to abuse which detracts from those students who are legitimate and diligent? Luckily, most nursing students and trained nurses are not like this lady.

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  • Reading over this story and the subsequent comments I feel I must offer an alternative viewpoint. There is no doubt that the girl in question committed numerous offences according to UK law and NHS bursary regulations and of course must now face the consequences. However I can't help wanting to know a little more every time I read about such stories. Ultimately, here is a girl who wants to train to qualify as a nurse and potentially dedicate the rest of her working life to the noblest profession. This girl has not been born into this world with the opportunities and benefits we are so lucky to be able to make use of in the UK. I feel very fortunate to have been born in this country and to have had a secure home, education and healthcare without ever having to struggle for it. Might we not take this argument a little further by questioning the nature of the UK immigration system and how it seems to be failing us. Are we allowed to know why this girl was refused permission to stay in the first place? A country such as Australia is highly selective and the system is stricter, but if people are offering the country a valuable skill such as nursing and can show commitment and dedication, it is likely they will ultimately be welcomed. There are vast numbers of people living in this country illegally, costing the taxpayer multiples of the amount above, and offering nothing to society in return. Furthermore if we are worried about financial losses, what about the thousands of UK students who take bursaries and places on Nursing courses and don't finish the course. In a world where the highly intelligent psychopath can rise to the very top in professions such as politics, banking and even medicine, defraud the public out of billions financially and emotionally, and remain largely disguised and shielded by our increasingly narcissistic culture, surely we need to get a little perspective on how harshly we judge those who for all we know may ultimately want to do good, but are merely struggling to get by in a very unfair world. What is more important - the spirit of the law or the letter of the law? Idealistic my opinion may be, but one thing I know for sure is that all is never as it seems.

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  • I salute the above writer. You have said all I would have said, I therefore rest my case. What about the broad day light politician and banker thieves who are even granted our tax money to defend their theft?

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  • That is bad I applied at Thamesvalley did the interview and everything and they told me that I was not eligible for the bursery even though I had my indeffinite stay at the time and I received my stay the legitimate way. Now this is going on. Luckily I was accepted at Southbank. Universities need to do more checks with overseas students

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  • The niaivity of some of the respondents is so worrying. Fraud is fraud whatever profession you are in. Yes, more information would be good, however, there must have been something that alerted people to her criminal behaviour and I am sure it was not her committment and dedication to nursing. We should be realistic about this. We cannot afford to have liars and cheats in our profession. Are you suggesting that this person should be allowed to continue with her training? Where would her deception and fraud go to? Stealing from patients? She could easily exploit vulnerable patients if she has had the will to defraud the NHS. Would you condone that? What about the respondent who is very dedicated and diligently and legally persevered to pursue her career? She is the kind of nurse we do want to employ. Good for you. Yes, there be all sorts of criminals employed in all sorts of professions, but they should be the minority. The important thing is that initial screening is as robust as possible and if they are devious enough still to be employed, then once exposed they should be dealt with accordingly. Honesty, integrity and dedication are part of any professional persons credentials and if they are flaunted then the person concerned should pay for it not our patients or the NHS.

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