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GP could face jail after embezzling more than £1.1m in less than two months

A GP is facing jail after he defrauded a healthcare group out of an “astonishing” amount of money.

Experienced doctor Rumi Chhapia could face a lengthy prison sentence after embezzling more than £1.1 million in less than two months.

The 45-year-old physician from Southsea, Hampshire, took advantage after his colleague went off sick and handed him access to crucial business accounts, prosecutors say.

He appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday charged with fraud.

Standing in the dock wearing a pink shirt, tie and a face mask, Chhapia indicated a plea of guilty to the single offence.

Prosecutor Lucy Linington told the court: “In a 41-day period this defendant has embezzled £1,133,704.50.

“And at the time of this offence he was an appointed director of what is otherwise known as the Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance Limited.”

The group – known as the PPCA – is a collection of GP practices working together in and around Portsmouth.

Its role in the city included tendering an out-of-hours GP service to the NHS, the court heard.

Ms Linington added: “At the time of this offence a director was signed off sick and therefore gave doctor Chhapia the freedom and the permission at that stage to have access to the business accounts of the PPCA.”

She said the abuse of trust involved in the offence was “significant” due to Chhapia’s position at the PPCA and the amount of money involved.

Chhapia has since repaid £233,000, magistrates were told.

The doctor, of Lennox Road North in Southsea, was told that his offending was so serious that he must be sentenced at the Crown Court.

He was released on bail and is expected to appear at Portsmouth Crown Court on October 22.

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