Man 'stayed at hotel for free by pretending to be NHS worker'

Will Taylor
News Reporter
A man has been accused of impersonating NHS staff, pictured here practicing in London. (PA Images)

A 30-year-old man has been charged after allegedly spending six free nights in a hotel by claiming he worked for the NHS.

Ben Quince stayed at the Casa Hotel in Chesterfield at the end of March, sleeping in a room on a floor reserved for medical workers, Derbyshire Police said.

The force added that the hotel has offered free stays for NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Quince, of no fixed address, is alleged to have stayed for six nights and to have told staff he worked at Chesterfield Royal Hopsital’s A&E department.

He appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on Monday, and was bailed to return at a later date.

Casa Hotel, which has offered NHS staff free lodging. (Google Maps)

The allegations come as NHS staff continue to grasp with the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 8,000 lives across the UK.

More than 65,000 cases have been confirmed across the country. Among them is Boris Johnson, who has been moved to a ward after spending three nights in intensive care.

The prime minister was said to be in “extremely good spirits” at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where he has been treated since Sunday.

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world

Fact-checker: The number of COVID-19 cases in your local area

6 charts and maps that explain how COVID-19 is spreading

Experts have said there are signs that social distancing has helped to spread the slow of the virus but it will take some time before lockdown measures can be eased.

There have been fears good weather could lead to people flouting the rules en masse, heading out for non-essential reasons and potentially spreading the virus, undoing the effort so far.

Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, who is deputising for Johnson as he recovers, said yesterday that it was hard for people who hoped to be out for Easter and meeting family.

“Unfortunately right now we just can’t do those sorts of things and I am really sorry about that,” he said.

Police forces have been criticised for how they have enforced the coronavirus regulations. (PA Images)

“It’s been almost three weeks and we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made.

“But the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus. So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we put in place.

“We must stick to the plan and we must continue to be guided by the science.”

Read more: Police officer bitten enforcing lockdown

Police have been criticised for the way they have enforced the regulations though, with Northamptonshire Police saying it had no plans to check shopping trolleys for non-essential items after its chief constable said that could happen in the future.

Cambridgeshire Police said it was not monitoring what shoppers were buying after it posted a tweet saying it was glad nobody was in what it described as “non-essential” shop aisles.

It said the tweet was sent by an “over exuberant” officer.

South Yorkshire Police also apologised after an officer was filmed telling a household not to use their front garden.

The force said the incident was a “well-intentioned but ill-informed” encounter.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter