AN AGENCY worker who stole bank cards from three elderly patients she was caring for at Worcestershire Royal Hospital has been jailed.

But questions have been asked about how Parudavi Maru was allowed to work at the hospital when she had previous convictions for theft.

Maru was jailed for 12 months at Worcester Crown Court after previously admitting theft and fraud while working as a care support worker at Worcestershire Royal Hospital between August 2013 and March 2014.

After the hearing the son of one elderly woman, whose bank card was stolen and used to withdraw about £1,200, demanded answers.

Maru was employed on a temporary basis through NHS Professionals, a government-owned company supplying healthcare workers to 63 NHS bodies across the UK.

She stole cards from three patients and used them to withdraw hundreds of pounds.

Speaking after the trial, the son of one of the victims said: “If you can’t trust hospital staff, who can you trust?

“It’s a total failure of governance by NHS Professionals. They are supposed to do regular Criminal Record Bureau Checks according their own charter, but they hadn’t done one since 2002.”

He said the thefts had been identified after five cash withdrawals were spotted on his 89-year-old mother’s bank statements which could not have been made by her.

He said no one else knew her PIN but it was possible she had written it on a piece of paper inside her purse, which had been found by Maru. The bank refunded the money to his mother, who has since died and was never aware of the thefts.

The court hearing on Tuesday heard Maru, aged 46, of Exhall, Coventry, who has two teenage sons, was fearful of confessing her crimes to her husband and of the shame it would bring upon the family.

Recorder Richard Burns questioned why her previous offences, which were not committed while she worked at the Royal, had not been flagged up during a vetting process.

He described her husband as “a beast” and advised her to distance herself from him as soon as possible.

The family of another of Maru’s victims, an 82-year-old grandfather and lifelong Worcestershire resident, released a joint statement.

“We want to ensure that other families and their loved ones never experience the hurt and distress that this systematic failing in the vetting of staff has caused us,” they said.

“As such we have lodged a formal complaint with Worcestershire Royal Hospital and also asked our MP Robin Walker to address this incredible breach of trust on our behalf.”

NHS Professionals’ director of clinical governance Anne O’Brien said the organisation “apologised unreservedly” for distress caused to patients and their families.

“NHS Professionals has some of the most rigorous recruitment protocols in the sector and we have taken immediate steps to investigate and understand how this situation could have arisen,” she said.

Chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs the Royal – Penny Venables said: “Agencies who supply temporary staff to the trust have a contractual obligation to ensure that all relevant employment eligibility checks and references are in place for staff on their books.

"We were not informed of any previous convictions on this occasion.

"Following the outcome of the court case we have contacted the agency concerned to ascertain why we were unaware of this and to seek further assurance that necessary checks are in place for all agency staff before they commence in post.”