10/03/2017 08:11 GMT | Updated 10/03/2017 09:46 GMT

Ex-NHS Boss And Husband To Be Sentenced For £11,000 Fraud

A former NHS chief executive and her husband are due to be sentenced after she admitted fraudulently paying him more than £11,000 from her budget.

Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, was in charge of South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, and the national lead for equalities for NHS England at the time.

She paid her husband, Stephen Vasco-Knight, £11,072 to produce a document named Transform, meant to improve leadership qualities in chief executives.

Exeter Crown Court heard that the 200-page document was never made and Mrs Vasco-Knight failed to declare any interest in her 46-year-old husband's company.

The couple, from Runcorn in Cheshire, were standing trial accused of fraud but changed their pleas to guilty during the prosecution case.

Mrs Vasco-Knight, who rose from the ranks of nurse to chief executive during her 30-year NHS career, broke down in tears before entering her guilty plea.

She admitted abusing her position as CEO at the trust by authorising the £11,072 payment to her husband for the document.

Her husband also pleaded guilty to fraud by submitting a false invoice to the trust for the Transform document in November 2013.

During the trial, jurors heard Mrs Vasco-Knight commanded a £200,000 budget for her one-day-a-week role as the national lead for equalities.

In 2012, she used the fund to buy a MacBook Pro computer with QuarkXPress graphic design software - later admitting she could not use it.

Prosecutors claim Mr Vasco-Knight used the computer, particularly the graphic design software, for his own business Thinking Caps.

Mrs Vasco-Knight was awarded a £10,000 bursary for leadership development in December 2012.

The following November, her husband submitted an invoice for £11,072 from the bursary funds for producing a document entitled Transform.

Weeks later, Mrs Vasco-Knight began chasing the payment, using her authorising number to approve it.

She then asked the finance department if the money could be paid as a cheque. Her husband later produced his banking details.

Those details led to a link being made between Mrs Vasco-Knight and Thinking Caps.

Mr Vasco-Knight did not provide a copy of Transform, which he claimed had been completed in 2013, until his interview in March 2015.

Many of the 200 pages were blank, except for the words 'Think it, write it', and passages of text were virtually verbatim from work published in 2014.