Ambulance staff quizzed over web auction
FRAUD specialists with the NHS are to quiz Essex ambulance workers about how life-saving equipment ended up for sale on auction site eBay.Anthony Marsh, chief executive of Essex Ambulance Service, has referred a range of cases to the NHS special counter-fraud team and said yesterday his staff would be spoken to.
FRAUD specialists with the NHS are to quiz Essex ambulance workers about how life-saving equipment ended up for sale on auction site eBay.
Anthony Marsh, chief executive of Essex Ambulance Service, has referred a range of cases to the NHS special counter-fraud team and said yesterday his staff would be spoken to.
Paramedics' uniforms, resuscitation kits, stretchers, dressings and even potentially lethal defibrillators, which restart a patient's heart with an electric shock, are among the items discovered for sale on the internet site.
The hauls have sparked concern the website is being used to illegally sell expensive and taxpayer-funded property.
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eBay rules forbid the misuse of its site, but the open nature of the marketplace means criminals can bypass regulators for several hours before detection and removal.
Earlier this year, Essex Police internal investigators launched an enquiry after the EADT revealed a force warrant card holder was being auctioned on eBay. The item was removed from sale after alarm was raised.
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It is not known how defibrillators, which were yesterday being sold for £300, ended up on eBay, but furious Mr Marsh said staff would be questioned.
He said: "I doubt very much if our serving staff would do this sort of thing. After all, they need their uniform for work.
"But it's possible the origin could be someone who's left or retired. I absolutely condemn this activity.
"We've been aware of cases before and they've been passed to NHS counter-fraud investigators who will now be conducting their own inquiries and that includes talking to our own staff, of course."
Paul Leaman, director of operations at Essex Ambulance Service, added: "We have had three cases where uniforms have been offered for sale. We understand that these originated from former members of staff who had sold them on."
A spokesman for the Counter Fraud and Security Management Service said they were currently probing eight cases of uniforms or equipment found on eBay and added: "It's not the first time. I think there have been seven cases previously which have resulted in either police cautions, disciplinary actions and in one case a criminal court sentence."
An eBay spokeswoman said: "We work closely with the NHS and eBay strongly supports law enforcement efforts to prevent the sale of illegal items, and urges the prosecution of
those responsible for knowingly attempting to sell such items on eBay.
"eBay has over 1,000 people working on customer support and safety, liaising closely with the police and other authorities to develop some of the most innovative anti-fraud technology in the industry.
"eBay also has a dedicated police liaison officer who works closely with the police in their
effort to apprehend any perpetrators."