Former Surrey dentist Mark Walewski has pleaded guilty to stealing almost £223,000 from the NHS. The 68-year-old realised that by charging people as private patients - and then billing the NHS for the same work - he could pocket tens of thousands of pounds extra a year.
The Daily Mail reported that by double-charging at his surgery in Hindhead in Surrey, he defrauded up to 6,000 patients over six years. Investigators also suggested he may have been claiming for higher value treatments than he was carrying out, splitting claims up for the same patient so he could charge more, and in one case claimed for a newborn who was under a week old.
The profits from his scheme have helped fund an impressive lifestyle. He owns a £2 million country home with its own lake in Churt, plus a number of flash sports cars - including a Ferrari and a Lotus.
He has already been suspended by the General Dental Council, and will be sentenced at a later date. The judge warned that he could be jailed.
NHS Protect, the organisation that investigated the fraud, has revealed a shocking level of fraud among dentists. Some £80 million a year is stolen from the NHS by those in dental work. In some cases this will be perpetrated by poorly-paid staff, but there are plenty of cases where the fraudster is a highly-paid dentist, who could make a fantastic living legitimately.
Back in December, dentist Jayantilal Bhikhabhai Mistry, 67, from Willesden, was sentenced to three years in prison, after claiming payments of £780,000 from the NHS for work that was never carried out. And in 2012, dentist Joyce Trail, 51, from Sutton Coldfield, was jailed for cheating the NHS out of £1.4 million through a combination of triple-claiming and claiming for work supposedly done on dead patients.
Dentists aren't exactly short of money. A study by the Taxpayers' Alliance last year found that in addition to income from private work, five dentists were paid more than £500,000 in 2012-13, another 11 earned between £400,000 and £499,999, 30 received between £300,000 and £399,999, 131 between £200,000 and £299,999, and 1,617 were paid between £100,000 and £199,999.
Clearly there's an incredibly lucrative living to be made honestly through dentistry, which makes defrauding the NHS so you can buy more super cars even more shocking.