A trusted doctor's practice worker who pocketed over £11,000 in an NHS con has walked free from court.
Jacqueline Wylie used her administrative position at the South Hylton Surgery in Sunderland to steal £11,949 for herself.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 43-year-old was involved in dealing with an invoice where money was meant to be paid to the practice from the Clinical Commissioning Group for work carried out.
But prosecutor Robin Patton told the court: "There was a shortfall of £11,949. The defendant kept that and that, effectively, is the case against her.
"She was in a high degree of trust."
Wylie, of Felton Avenue, South Shields, admitted theft.
The court heard she has since been dismissed from her position at the surgery.
Judge Stephen Ashurst sentenced the mum-of-three to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with 100 hours unpaid work.
A compensation order may be made at a later date, after Wylie's finances have been properly investigated.
Judge Ashurst told the mum, who was crying and shaking throughout the hearing: "It is surprising to see someone like you in the dock of a criminal court.
"You are someone who has been highly regarded, you have worked hard during your life and you were holding a responsible position at the surgery in South Hylton."
The judge said it was clear Wylie had taken on "too much" at a time, when she had mounting personal pressures and her marriage was breaking down.
Judge Ashurst told her: "The pressures built up on you and, when a refund to the surgery in the internal accounting in the NHS was being processed, you kept for yourself just over £11,000.
"You have lost your good character."
The judge added: "There is no evidence that loss had any direct effect upon the patients of that surgery."
The court heard Wylie has been assessed as posing a low risk of criminal offending in future.
Yvonne Taylor, defending, said Wylie has since found employment as a senior administrator at another doctors surgery and was able to provide references to the court about her ordinarily very positive character.
Miss Taylor added: "She is absolutely devastated at her actions.
"She is extremely remorseful."
A statement from South Hylton Surgery after the case said: "We are aware of today’s proceedings and have worked closely with the police as they carried out their enquiries.
"As medical professionals we would like to reassure our patients that this case has not affected the services we provide, and our focus remains very much on providing a quality service to our community."