News and Notices

Working while you are sick

Sam was on long-term sick leave from her position as a nurse in the NHS because of back-related medical issues.  She was well enough work at a local nursing home though and, whilst there, was spotted by a colleague from the ward where she usually worked.  Checks by the Local Counter Fraud Specialist quickly found out that, over the past 6 years, Sam had been regularly working at the nursing home whilst off sick from the NHS.  On each occasion, she received sick pay from the NHS, which meant she was effectively paid twice. The NHS not only paid Sam’s salary, but also had to pay for agency cover for her post. When Sam was confronted about this, she claimed not to know that she wasn’t allowed to work elsewhere, but in court the judge didn’t agree. Sam lost her job, gained a criminal conviction, had to appear before a professional disciplinary committee and was ordered to pay back the money she had stolen, plus the full costs of the investigation.

Working elsewhere whilst on sick leave is consistently highlighted as one of the most prolific frauds found in the NHS and is the one of the most common frauds investigated by your Counter Fraud Specialist.  This is where staff work in a second job whilst also receiving full sick pay from their NHS employer, without express written permission. This means that not only is the department one person down, but the organisation is burdened with funding the staff member’s sick pay and sourcing a replacement. This offence could constitute fraud by false representation and the offending member of staff could be prosecuted, face disciplinary action, as well as civil action for recovery of losses.

If you have a second job, there are some important steps you should take:

  • Don’t work whilst sick - Staff should not undertake any employment, including self-employment, inside or outside the NHS whilst sick from their NHS role.
  • Declare any secondary employment
  • Obtain written permission from your NHS employer if you wish to carry out alternative paid or unpaid employment whilst on sick leave
  • Read and follow relevant policies in place at your organisation covering – these should include:
    • standards of business conduct
    • sickness management
    • declarations of interest
  • If you have concerns regarding other staff members, please report them.

November is Fraud Awareness Month.  Watch out for further tips and advice from the Counter Fraud Team to protect you and your organisation against fraud. Don’t let the fraudsters get away with it!

If you have any concerns regarding fraud, bribery or corruption, please contact your Counter Fraud Specialist, Liz Coleman on 0115 8835320 or email           

To report fraud or attempted fraud and to report potential scam messages or emails which affect you as an individual, you can contact Action Fraud. For more information please visit