A GP receptionist who stole medical prescriptions for family members after jumping on colleagues’ computers when they were away from their desks narrowly avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Lisa Rowles, aged 46, of Lasgarn View, Varteg, Pontypool, who worked at the Mount Surgery in the town, conned the NHS out of 43 scripts for her daughter Danielle Hirons and her partner Ross Duke.

Prosecutor Matthew Greenish said the prescriptions were for zapain – a painkiller that’s a mix of paracetamol and codeine – and diazepam, which can be used to treat anxiety.

Newport Magistrates’ Court heard how, as a junior receptionist, Rowles didn’t have user rights to issue prescriptions.

She committed the scam by using her workmates’ computers when they were away from their desks on breaks.

Rowles’ ruse came to light when a suspicious colleague came back and noticed her screen was different to when she had left it.

After the browser history was checked, the whistle was blown on her deceit.

Rowles pleaded guilty to committing the fraud between December 2015 and December 2017 in obtaining prescriptions for Miss Hirons and Mr Duke to which they were not entitled.

The defendant, who was represented by Huw Williams, was a woman of previous good character with no convictions recorded against her.

District Judge David Parsons told her the offence had crossed the custody threshold.

He said she should have been protecting the interests of the Mount Surgery but had instead “abused her position of trust”.

The judge said her actions could also have resulted in fellow workers being falsely implicated in her swindle.

Rowles was jailed for 18 months, suspended for one year.

She must also carry out 150 hours of unpaid work within the community and complete a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement within the next 12 months.

The defendant must also pay compensation of £565 to the NHS.

Outside the court, a spokesperson for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board counter fraud team, who carried out the investigation, said: “We are pleased to hear the result of the court case.

“NHS counter fraud teams have responsibility for investigating fraud in primary care general medical services in addition to the secondary care hospital domain.

“Fraud against the NHS is unacceptable and indefensible and action will always be taken against perpetrators of NHS fraud irrespective of the healthcare setting in which it occurs.”