A FORMER medical secretary at Winchester’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital who fiddled her overtime claims has escaped jail.

Susan Homewood, 63, was last month convicted of seven counts of fraudulently claiming overtime pay between January 2009 and April 2010.

But she avoided prison at Winchester Crown Court last week (Dec 7) and was given a community order of 100 hours unpaid work.

Homewood, of New Lane, King’s Somborne, was employed by Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Healthcare Trust as a part-time medical secretary in the accident and emergency department.

A jury in November heard Homewood submitted 48 time sheets in which she claimed to have worked overtime, but only five of those had genuine signatures of senior staff authorising payment. The rest were forged.

Jeremy Wright, mitigating, said Homewood was of positive good character and the damage to her reputation meant finding work would be highly unlikely.

She was also cleared of nine other counts at the trial in November.

Sentencing last Friday, Judge Jane Miller QC said: “You were quite clearly an excellent secretary and the backbone of the accident and emergency department. You worked hard and conscientiously for longer than your normal hours on a regular basis.

“But at the trial you created an elaborate false picture to try to explain the claims you made. Your defence of this case caused a long trial with a great cost.”

She was also ordered to pay £3,000 costs over the next six months.