A WOMAN faked her identity and invented children in order to obtain three university nursing places as well as NHS bursaries.

Eleanor Bonde was handed a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for two years after defrauding the NHS out of £88,804, which is enough to pay four newly qualified nurses’ annual salaries.

One of the institutions she tricked was Anglia Ruskin University and she also targeted the University of Surrey and the University of Brighton.

The cash was paid to her by the East of England Strategic Health Authority, which ceased to exist in March 2013.

It was responsible for overseeing how healthcare was provided in the east of England.

Bonde appeared at Guildford Crown Court and pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud after an investigation by NHS Protect, which tackles fraud, bribery and corruption against the health service.

The frauds took place between 2001 and 2012.

The 57-year-old failed all three courses and never actually became a nurse.

Initial efforts to locate her in 2013 proved difficult and she was eventually arrested by Surrey Police in September 2015