A SPECIALIST heart consultant and five of his staff allegedly billed the NHS for £1million of work they never carried out.

Basildon Crown Court heard yesterday internationallyrenowned specialist John Mulholland, of Copenhagen Place, London, and five of his colleagues, were employees at Basildon Hospital carrying out a specialist procedure.

However, Mulholland, 40, also owned a private company, London Perfusion Science, which offered the service, called perfusion, to other hospitals.

The procedure involves operating a specialist machine to pump blood around the body while a patient is undergoing a heart operation Prosecutor Shaun Collery told the court a conflict of interest arose and between 2007 and 2011 the six defendants did not work all their contracted hours at Basildon Hospital.

Instead, Mr Collery alleged, they were at other hospitals carrying out private work for LPS.

Mr Collery alleged that to cover up the fraud, Mulholland submitted false time sheets.

He also alleged Mulholland billed Basildon Hospital for work he was carrying out privately by submitting pay claims for “emergency call-outs”.

The five co-defendants Christopher Morris, 32, from, Liverpool, Martin Oliver, 36, of Basin Approach, East London, Gemma Deer, 31, of Blackheath, London, Ann Clements, 50, of Wharf Lane, Limehouse, and Tom Cumberland, 41, of Penge, London, all deny a single count of conspiracy to defraud Basildon and Thurrock NHS Foundation Trust.

The court heard three of the defendants, Clements, Oliver and Cumberland, were company directors on the private company.

In his opening remarks to the jury, Mr Collery said: “This is in many respects a sad case.

“It involves one of the perfusion medical teams at Basildon Hospital engaging in fraud.

“They provided significant services to the public and were rewarded by a salary, but it was not enough.

“They started to earn more, by doing less and engaging in activities which stole from their employer, from the public purse and from you.”

The so-called moonlighting fraud is alleged to have taken place between February 1, 2007 and November 9, 2011.

The jury have been told the trial is expected to last until July 18.

All six defendants deny the charges against them.

The trial continues.