AN optician who defrauded the NHS and misled thousands of patients has avoided jail.
Iqbal Nabi, 39, of Slough, formerly a dispensing optician at New Global Vision, in Robertson Street, was on Monday (March 4), handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years, together with a mental health treatment order for two years, after he was convicted last July of making fraudulent claims to the NHS in 2009.
He had been charged with £5,000 of fraud, however NHS investigators believe the fraudulent claims totalled more than £145,000.
During this period Nabi carried out sight tests at New Global Vision despite not being qualified to do so, and claimed for payment of work not done.
Prescriptions were often incorrect and the dispensed glasses were often of poor quality. In many cases, glasses were prescribed to patients who did not need them. He instructed staff to stand in the street and solicit passers-by into the practice with offers of free sight tests and glasses.
Suspicions were raised when the mother of a 13-year-old girl who was brought in off the street for a free eye test and free prescription glasses was angry that she had been given an eye test without an adult family member present.
Investigators found that between January and October 2009, around 80 per cent of claims made to the NHS by New Global Vision were fraudulent.
Nabi was arrested in November 2009 following an investigation led by the local counter fraud specialist for NHS Hastings and Rother, working with Sussex Police, and charged, along with Helen James, of Dunstable, a former ophthalmic medical practitioner, with £5,000 of fraud.
James, 56, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced on October 8, 2012 to a four-month suspended sentence, £1,000 in costs and 250 hours community service, while Nabi pleaded not guilty and was convicted following a trial.
Sentencing was delayed due to questions over the state of his mental health, after he appeared incoherent in court.
Nabi failed to arrive at Lewes Crown Court on Monday after his wife reported that she had to stop driving after he had grabbed the steering wheel on the way. Judge David Rennie sentenced Nabi in his absence.