A man who stole over £500,000 from the NHS and spent it on lavish holidays and shopping has been jailed. 

Thomas Elrick, 56, commissioned children’s and mental health services as part of his role as assistant managing director for planned and unscheduled care at Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Between August 2018 and December 2020 he authorised 28 transactions totalling £564,484, which were paid into his own bank account. 

He then tried to use his dead wife’s email account to cover his tracks.   

Elrick spent over £100,000 on holidays to Dubai, Hong Kong, the Maldives, Singapore and Switzerland. 

He also spent just under half a million on shopping, spending significant sums at Amazon, Apple and David Lloyd gyms. 

Elrick claimed he knew what he was doing was dishonest but said he had become addicted to fraud. 

He was jailed at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday (August 30) for three years and eight months.

Harrow Times: Thomas Elrick pictured leaving Harrow Crown Court after an earlier court hearingThomas Elrick pictured leaving Harrow Crown Court after an earlier court hearing (Image: Bolton/Newsquest)

Opening the case, prosecutor Conall Bailie said Elrick joined Harrow CCG on an interim basis in July 2018, with the power to approve invoices up to £50,000. 

In January 2021 an auditor spotted a company called Tree of Andre in a routine audit of outside suppliers. 

They could not find a company website and it was not registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). 

On Companies House it was registered as a dormant company with an address in Scotland linked to Elrick. 

A subsequent investigation revealed that all of Tree of Andre’s invoices were sent to Elrick. Payments were then automatically sent to a Lloyds account under Elrick’s name. 

No services were ever provided by Tree of Andre. 

Mr Bailie told the court Elrick used the names of real people to cover his tracks, including listing his sister and a nurse he had worked with in the 1990s as being financially involved.

Neither of them knew he had done so. 

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority (CFA) said Elrick also sent emails to the CCG using the account of his wife who had died in 2012.  

When he was arrested in November 2021 he made a full admission explaining that he had carried out fraud using a ghost company. 

“He said the money frauded was used to fund a lifestyle he had become accustomed to and that he wanted more,” Mr Bailie said. 

At his sentencing, Elrick asked his barrister, Hamish McCallum, to read out a statement on his behalf. 

It said: “I cannot truly express in words the regret and remorse I feel for my actions in relation to the Harrow CCG and its patients. 

“I have spent my career in care services focused on helping people and what I did in Harrow is obviously contrary to this.” 

Elrick said he had no excuse for his actions. 

“I wish I could turn back the clock but I know that I cannot and I sincerely apologise,” he said. 

“I am not a bad person. I believe that I am fundamentally a good person who made bad decisions, for which I take sole responsibility.” 

Mr McCallum said Elrick qualified as a nurse in 1989 before moving into managerial positions. 

He worked in health care until late 2021 when he lost his job due to these offences.  

Since then Elrick has been working with local authorities to help refugees, Mr McCallum said. 

He explained that Elrick was going through a personal crisis at the time of his offending. 

The court also heard that Elrick had suffered a high number of personal tragedies. 

Sentencing Elrick, Judge Vanessa Francis said: “You are a man who has worked in and around the NHS virtually all of your working life. You are clearly someone who cares deeply about people who are vulnerable and need support. 

“But having gained this position you used it to systematically defraud that group of £565,484.” 

Judge Francis noted that the NHS group was already in a deficit at the time of his offending. 

“However hard the NHS department tried, and I know they did, it meant in practical terms that vulnerable people who needed care did not get as much as they needed, and you are responsible for that,” Judge Francis said. 

Elrick, of Vesuvius Drive in Motherwell, will serve up to half his sentence in custody before he is eligible for release on licence. 

A confiscation hearing which will attempt to reclaim the stolen money will be held on December 1.