In Conversation With...Mary Kinsella, our local counter fraud specialist
Mary Kinsella is our local counter fraud specialist - here to detect and prevent fraud across our hospitals. She worked in lots of government departments before joining our Trust, including in the counter terrorism team. She also loves to get involved in her local community, she volunteers for Macmillan and the Guide Dogs, and loves bell-ringing at her local church!
Lives: in Chigwell with husband John, 40
And: Mary is a campanologist – she loves bell-ringing at her local church!
Tell us a more about your role
I work for the East London Foundation Trust which provides our counter fraud service. I’m full-time at our Trust, based at Lyon Road.
I’m here to identify fraud, so I’ll receive referrals from staff, HR or the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, then gather initial evidence to see whether there’s enough to carry out a full investigation. I also work with our departments to see whether there are any gaps in our systems and process which could allow fraud to take place, and I give fraud awareness presentations.
I’ve been with our Trust for a year.
What other jobs have you had?
I started out in the gift registry at Harrods, working with the wedding lists of very rich people – for one wedding we even had a member of the royal family buy a toilet brush as a gift!
I also worked in the Christmas department at Selfridges and was a guide at Madam Tussauds, we used to like scaring other staff and visitors in the dungeon by jumping out on them!
I lived in Prague for a while teaching English as a second language, mainly to businesses. That was amazing and the people were so friendly.
After I returned from Prague in my late 20s I joined the Immigration Service, working in enforcement to check if people had the right to live or work in the UK. One of my most successful cases was a solicitor who was trafficking people into the UK with false documents, it was a long investigation as he knew what he was doing and was very arrogant, but we got him in the end and he was given four years in jail.
Then I worked in the Ministry of Defence in counter terrorism involved in intelligence and surveillance. I also did a seven month secondment to Australia which was great. My husband came out and visited me for a bit and we really considered staying for good!
Before we came home we drove a camper van along the east coast, visiting the Great Barrier Reef and Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the sea.
Then I moved into working in counter fraud in the NHS.
What interested you about working in fraud?
I have a very strong sense of right and wrong and there is no grey area with me. Rules and policies are there for a reason and I like people to do the right thing.
What’s the best thing about your job?
No day is the same and I really enjoy meeting different people all the time.
I like getting into the nitty gritty of the details. I’m very patient and can be like a dog with a bone. It is frustrating if I spend time looking into something and it turns out to be nothing, but at least I know I’ve checked it out.
And while I don’t want people to commit fraud, it is exciting when you have a juicy case to get your teeth into!
What kind of fraud do you see in our Trust?
Common ones are extra hours on timesheets, additional mileage and sometimes carrying out private work in NHS time.
We also have instances of people working elsewhere while off sick – we even had someone working elsewhere in our Trust while claiming sick pay. Nothing surprises me anymore.
And I look into fraud involving our patients, so for example receiving NHS care they are not entitled too.
What do you like to do when not detecting fraud?
I’ve been a campanologist for two and a half years. When we were looking at wedding venues our local church needed volunteers for bell-ringing so I started then and found out I really loved it!
I practice every Tuesday night and we ring the bells for special occasions like weddings, Christmas and Easter. My fellow bell-ringers rang for our wedding too which was lovely.
I also volunteer with Macmillan, fundraising and assessing cancer treatment centres to make them better for patients. And I volunteer with the Guide Dogs. I take part in a scheme called My Guide and recently supported a man who had lost high sight just a year ago.
I like to get involved with my local community.
And I climbed Ben Nevis with a friend earlier this year, which was quite challenging. I did Scafell Pike years ago and might do Snowdon next year.
And our favourite question of In Conversation With…do you have any pets?
We have Teddy, a black Labrador who is seven. In the interests of full disclosure, as I work in fraud, he’s not actually our dog. He lives with my husband’s parents and belongs to my sister-in-law, but he comes to us for sleepovers and we adore him.
We also take him away on holidays. We recently took him to a dog-friendly hotel in Southend for his seventh birthday! He’s amazing.