A HOSPITAL worker stole thousands of pounds from vulnerable patients — then bragged about it with his accomplice.

Alexander Hood, aged 28, of Addison Drive, Middleton, used his position as a clinical support worker at Alpha Hospital in Buller Street, Bury, to steal a total of £7,365 from three vulnerable patients during a five-month period in 2012.

Yesterday at Bolton Crown Court, Hood was jailed for 22 months while co-conspirator Matthew Poole — a patient at Alpha at the time of the deception — was given an 18-month sentence, including 12 months of hospital treatment for his mixed personality disorder.

Both men had pleaded guilty to conspirary to steal at an earlier hearing Sentencing Hood, Judge Elliot Knopf said: “Members of the public would consider this to be absolutely abhorrent.

"You betrayed the trust that had been placed within you by taking money away from patients in your care.

"You tried to cover it up by confusing patients to avoid detection and you engaged another patient — one you knew had a history of manipulation and aggression — to help.”

The court heard how Hood, a father of two boys, had encountered financial difficulties as a result of a divorce in 2011.

In May, 2012 — five years after starting work at the private hospital — he began taking bank cards from patients and using them to draw out money.

Poole, now aged 39, had been a patient at Alpha for the previous five years and is now at a hospital in York.

He spotted Hood pocketing a cash card, so Hood gave him cash and a mobile phone to keep him quiet, the court heard.

The pair then worked together to steal money from patients. Later, police discovered text message conversations between them in which they discussed “rinsing” patients of cash, “making serious dough,” and named a patient as their “next target”.

Hood, who had no previous convictions, was sacked from the hospital and defence counsel Andrew Scott said Hood would run the risk of losing his latest job if he was jailed.

The court heard Poole had previous convictions including dishonesty, theft, blackmail and prison escape. Hood was ordered to pay £2,760 compensation and Poole was ordered to pay £143.

An Alpha Hospitals spokesman said: “As soon as the allegations were made, we immediately contacted the police and suspended Alexander Hood. His contract of employment has been terminated.

“We are committed to providing the highest standard of patient care. We adhere fully to the standards required by the Care Quality Commission in order to safeguard patients, including rigorous pre-employment checks.”