Hospital COVID Worker Sentenced for Stealing Dead Patient's Bank Card to Buy Vending Machine Snacks

A British health care assistant who purchased soda, candy and potato chips with a dead patient's money in January was convicted of the crime earlier this week but has managed to avoid prison time, according to Yahoo News.

#CONVICTED | A healthcare assistant working on a Covid ward used a dead patient’s bank card to buy crisps, sweets & fizzy drinks from a hospital vending machine.

Ayesha Basharat took the 83-year-old woman’s card after she passed away on 24 Jan.

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— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) June 10, 2021

Minutes after an 83-year-old woman in her care died on January 24, 23-year-old Ayesha Basharat, an employee of Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, England, stole the woman's bank card to buy snacks.

Closed-circuit TV footage caught her in the act of making six £1 contactless purchases at a nearby vending machine, according to the Belfast Telegraph. She made additional purchases that evening and tried to make even more two times within the next four days. By then, however, the card had been canceled.

On January 28, Basharat was arrested and charged with theft and fraud by false representation. She initially claimed that her actions were the result of an innocent mistake, telling the police she had merely "muddled up" the woman's card and her own after she found the former on the floor.

But the court was told that Basharat's version of events was improbable because the two cards were of different colors. In addition, Basharat, who was working on the hospital's COVID-19 ward at the time, had not followed institutional protocol regarding dead patients' personal property.

On June 9, roughly six months after the crime occurred, Basharat confessed to the charges at Birmingham Crown Court, according to Yahoo News. She was subsequently sentenced to two concurrent prison terms of five months each, which were suspended for 18 months.

Detective Constable Andrew Snowdon of the West Midlands Police praised the verdict, calling the inciting incident "an abhorrent breach of trust and distressing for the victim's family," according to Yahoo News.

"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 realization that the card was taken by someone who should have been caring for her," Snowdon said. He added that he wished the family the best and hoped they could "move on from this upsetting episode."

Following her conviction, Basharat was suspended from her position at the hospital. She will also face "disciplinary proceedings," a spokesman for University Hospitals Birmingham National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, told the Telegraph.

"We would like to offer our sympathies to the patient's family and sincerely apologize for their experience. This incident is disgraceful and clearly fell short of the high standards of integrity that we all expect of NHS employees," the spokesman added.

Other health care workers have been accused of exploiting the pandemic for selfish purposes. On February 19, Haines, Florida, certified nursing assistant Yolanda Curtis-Deliz allegedly removed $920 from a male COVID-19 patient's wallet after telling him that she needed to "refresh" the room.

Later that month, Curtis-Deliz was arrested and charged with grand theft, the Haines City Police Department said.

A nurse tends to a COVID-19 patient.
A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient in Pierre-Benite, France, on January 25. JEFF PACHOUD/Getty Images