A MOTHER who tried to cheat £2.5million out of the NHS by exaggerating injuries from botched surgery has been jailed after she was spotted at a hen party in Ibiza.
Lesley Maria Elder, 50, claimed she was left disabled by constant pain after a vaginal mesh operation and could no longer do routine tasks without help.
She sued the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where she had the surgery in 2010.
But a judge found she had ‘grossly, dishonestly and repeatedly’ exaggerated her symptoms after photos appeared on Facebook of her at her daughter Tania’s hen do in the Spanish resort.
Undercover surveillance also showed she was able to go shopping and to walk her dog without the aid of a walking stick.
Elder, of Poole, Dorset, was jailed for five months at London’s High Court for contempt of court over her false claims. She was sentenced in her absence after apparently taking an overdose of painkillers shortly before the hearing began.
Judge Karen Walden-Smith said: ‘This was an attempt to effectively defraud the NHS of a sum of more than £2million — public funds which are desperately needed for frontline services.’ The judge told the court Elder suffered a genuine injury as a result of the surgery, which it later transpired was not necessary because she had been misdiagnosed.
The NHS trust admitted liability but disputed the amount she claimed, and a judge at a county court in 2017 ruled she was entitled to just £120,000. The trust brought proceedings against her over the lies she had told.
Helen Vernon, chief executive at NHS Resolution, said: ‘Fraudulent claims for compensation against the NHS take money away from patient care. We are pleased that the seriousness of this case has been recognised by the courts.’