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150 hospital staff ‘fired’ over prescription scam

Around 150 staff at a hospital in Canada have been sacked over one of the country's biggest ever benefit fraud schemes, according to local media.

Nurses, housekeeping and cleaning staff were reportedly among those fired when an audit found they falsely claimed up to $5m (£3m) over an eight-year period.

The National Post said the scam involved faking prescriptions for physiotherapy, knee braces and compression stockings.

William Reichman, president and chief executive of Baycrest Health Sciences which runs the hospital for the elderly, was quoted as saying the action was "organised".

"It had to be done in such a way that it would escape at least detection by the benefits administrator," he said.


"It's a betrayal of trust."

The investigation reportedly found one employee pocketed more than $100,000, while several others received $25,000.

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No criminal charges have been filed, and none of the allegations have been proven in court, the National Post reported.

Detective Sergeant John Whitworth also told the paper the hospital held meetings with him to seek his advice but decided to pursue only an internal investigation.

"If it involved public safety, we would take that decision out of their hands," he said, but given it has not appeared to yet, the "ball was left in their court".

The paper said it spoke to one of those fired who shared the letter accusing them of "committed multiple acts constituting fraud and/or theft" that had "irreparably damaged our trust in you".

Another sacked employee said they knew it was against policy but she deserved a second chance.

The loss represents around 8% of all hospital staff, according to the National Post, with new staff hired and staffing agencies engaged to put contingency plans in place.

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