A healthcare assistant working on a COVID ward has been convicted of using a dead patient’s bank card to buy crisps, fizzy drinks and sweets from a hospital vending machine.

Ayesha Basharat, 23, took the card from an 83-year-old woman who had recently passed away at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.

A doctor recorded her time of death as 1.56pm on 24 January, but just 17 minutes later, Basharat made six £1 purchases using the vending machine’s contactless payment system.

She then made another £1 purchase later in the evening, and then tried again twice when she went back to work four days later – but the card had been cancelled by the family by that point.

Basharat, of Farm Road, Birmingham, was arrested during her shift on 28 January on Ward One, and still had the patient’s card on her.

She initially told police that she had found the card on the floor, and got it “muddled up” with her own card when it came to paying for the snacks.

Basharat appeared at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday, where the jury heard that the cards were different colours, and that she had ignored the rules around patient lost property.

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She admitted theft and fraud by false representation, and was given two, five-month jail terms to run concurrently, suspended for 18 months.

Investigating officer DC Andrew Snowdon, from West Midlands Police CID, said: “This was an abhorrent breach of trust and distressing for the victim’s family.

“They were having to come to terms with the death of a loved one from COVID when they found the bank card missing – and then of course the realisation that the card was taken by someone who should have been caring for her.

“Our Hospital Liaison Officer worked closely with Heartlands security team to gather evidence in this case. I’d like to thank them and the victim’s family for their support during the investigation.

“I wish the family all the best for the future and with this conviction hope they can move on from this upsetting episode.”

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