GP stole £1m of NHS Money to fund Online Gambling Addiction

A GP stole more than £1 million from a company that oversaw a group of GP practices in Portsmouth in order to fund his gambling addiction.

GP stole £1m of NHS Money to fund Online Gambling Addiction f

“You abused the trust placed on you and took £1.13m"

Senior GP Dr Rumi Chhapia, aged 45, of Southsea, Portsmouth, was jailed for three years and four months after he stole more than £1 million of NHS money to fund his online gambling addiction.

Dr Chhapia defrauded Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance of £1.13 million.

Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance (PPCA) is a group of 16 GP surgeries that provides vital care under an NHS contract.

Dr Chhapia co-founded PPCA.

In August 2020, the man in charge of its finances was signed off sick. Dr Chhapia volunteered to manage its accounts.

But within a six-week period, the GP made over 60 bank transfers to his bank account to fund his online gambling addiction and spiralling financial debt.

The former director stole £1.13 million, leaving the company’s finances in disarray and other directors needing therapy.

Matthew Lawson, prosecuting, said that when a colleague noticed that money was vanishing, Dr Chhapia claimed he was the victim of cybercrime and continued to steal money.

Police investigated and Dr Chhapia admitted: “I f****d up.”

Portsmouth Crown Court heard that his fraud was described as “relatively unsophisticated” as he simply transferred money into accounts in his name.

He has since paid the company back £238,000 and after writing letters to them, gambling companies agreed to repay £904,000.

Mr Lawson explained that the GP’s gambling addiction was so severe that he remortgaged his home, sold his car and failed to repay his friends who loaned him more than £300,000.

Mark Swindells, a PPCA director, said:

“The financial impact was profound, the people of Portsmouth lost a sizeable chunk of NHS money.

“Although we are financially solvent, it’s reduced the overall budget and caused cashflow issues.”

In October 2020, Dr Chhapia resigned from his role.

He admitted fraud by abuse of position.

Stan Reiz QC, defending, said Chhapia felt he was “one win away” from financial security.

He said: “He entered into a desperation phase and thought the next bet would be the panacea of all his bets.

“He felt the need to keep taking the money even after they raised the alarm to try and win.”

Mr Reiz added that the fraud took place over “six weeks of madness”, adding:

“This is an unusual and tragic case. The references from his esteemed colleagues describe a hardworking and honest man who has acted wholly out of character.

“For many years he gambled for fun but then progressed to that next stage and entered the losing stage when a gambler begins to chase losses.”

Judge Keith Cutler told the GP:

“You abused the trust placed on you and took £1.13m from the PPCA, money which in my judgment should have been for GP surgeries to develop their services.

“This is a very serious abrogation of your responsibilities as a doctor.”

“Your duty should have been to provide the very best care to your patients and that should have been the pinnacle, but you were dishonest.”

Dr Chhapia was jailed for three years and four months.

Lisa Garcia, CPS Wessex Senior Crown Prosecutor, said:

“Dr Chhapia exploited his position of trust to take an extraordinary amount of money, which diverted funds that would have otherwise been invested into providing better services, equipment and care to people across the Portsmouth area.

“The overwhelming financial evidence meant that Dr Chhapia had no choice but to admit the fraud to his work colleagues and to the police.

“He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and he will now face the consequences of his actions by serving the custodial sentence imposed.”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”