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Court orders nurse-turned chief exec to detail financial assets

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A court has told a disgraced former NHS chief executive and nurse that she must provide details of her financial assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Paula Vasco-Knight, a nurse who became a high profile hospital trust chief executive, was given a 16-month suspended jail term in March, after pleading guilty to fraud.

While chief executive of South Devon Foundation NHS Trust she used health service money to pay more than £11,000 in November 2013 to her husband Stephen for work that was never carried out.

Following the sentencing, a timetable was set through the Proceeds of Crime Act for Ms Vasco-Knight to repay the money. But neither she nor her husband have responded to the POCA request.

At a hearing at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday this week, prosecutor Gareth Evans said a new repayment timetable would have to be set.

But Ms Vasco-Knight must first tell the court if she agrees with an assessment of her and her husband’s financial assets provided by the prosecution.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Ms Vasco-Knight has 14 days to respond to the prosecution’s financial statement.

If she fails to comply, then the case will progress to a proceeds of crime hearing, the service confirmed to Health Service Journal.

Ms Vasco-Knight and her husband were not present at Tuesday’s hearing, Devon Live has reported.

A date for the next hearing has not yet been set.

Paula Vasco Knight

Paula Vasco-Knight

Paula Vasco-Knight

Ms Vasco-Knight was the national lead for equalities for NHS England at the time when she committed the crime. She resigned from her position at NHS England in January 2014.

Ms Vasco-Knight joined the NHS as a “pupil nurse” in the 1980s, before going on to train as a registered nurse and becoming an accident and emergency sister.

She subsequently became director of nursing at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, going on to also become its deputy chief executive and ultimately be appointed chief executive.

In 2008 she moved to South Devon NHS Trust, as chief executive but stepped down in May 2014, several months after she was suspended in the wake of an employment tribunal judgement.

In October 2015, Ms Vasco-Knight joined St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as interim chief operating officer.

She became the trust’s acting chief executive in April 2016, but was suspended less than two weeks later when the financial allegations relating to the fraud case were made against her.

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