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Dentists avoid jail after £46,000 fraud

PUBLISHED: 14:03 09 August 2012 | UPDATED: 17:46 09 August 2012

Werner Muller

Werner Muller

Northcliffe Media Ltd.

Two dentists, including one who lives in Norfolk, have avoided jail today after being convicted of a £46,000 NHS fraud.

Two dentists, including one who lives in Norfolk, have avoided jail today after being convicted of a £46,000 NHS fraud.

Dr Werner Muller, 45, of Field Dalling Road, Bale, near Fakenham and Dr John Atkinson, 64, of Finham Road, Kenilworth were found guilty of a double-charging fraud in which they billed the NHS for private work they did at the Clarendon Road dental practice in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Following a five-week trial at Leicester Crown Court, Muller and Atkinson were both found guilty by a jury of a number of charges of false accounting involving fraudulent claims after they manipulated a computerised billing system.

Sentencing them today, Judge Simon Hammond said he believed it was a “tragic case” involving two men who loved their jobs.

He said: “They clearly were acting dishonestly. What they did was a breach of trust.”

He sentenced them both to 12 months in prison for each offence, to run concurrently, and suspended the sentence for one year.

Both men were also ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

Muller was convicted of 20 charges of false accounting relating to 140 fraudulent claims to the health service for work done privately, involving £26,046, during 2006 and 2007.

Atkinson was convicted of 17 counts of false accounting, involving 91 fraudulent claims to the NHS, totalling £20,269.

The General Dental Council is also to carry out its own investigation into the case and Muller and Atkinson could be struck off the dentist’s register for at least five years, the court heard.

Muller has worked at Compass Clinic practices in Wells and High Kelling since 2010.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney said there is no suggestion that he was involved in anything untoward in that time.

The court case follows an investigation from NHS Protect which works to identify and tackle crime across the health service.

Mick Hayes, Anti-Fraud Lead at NHS Protect, said today: “Werner Muller and John Atkinson intentionally misled patients about the NHS treatment they could access, in order to gain financially, and then also billed the NHS for the treatment.

“NHS Protect is working hard to stamp out this kind of fraud, in order to protect both patients and NHS resources.”

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