NHS anti-fraud agency emphasises prevention

16 Aug 07
The NHS was defrauded out of more than £7m last year, its anti-fraud agency said this week.

17 August 2007

The NHS was defrauded out of more than £7m last year, its anti-fraud agency said this week.

In its Performance Summary for 2006/07, the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service revealed that it had identified £7.3m worth of fraud and unlawful action. But it also estimated that savings generated by completed investigations for the same period stood at £11.8m.

A total of 409 cases of potential fraud were detected and professionally investigated and 62 successful criminal prosecutions took place.

NHS CFS acting managing director Dermid McCausland said he was pleased with the service's performance in what had been a difficult year for the NHS. He also noted that the service was beginning to shift its emphasis away from the investigation of fraud and recovery of lost money to the prevention of fraud.

'While I think [fraud investigation is] very commendable and there will always be a place for that, it worries me that money is going out there and being lost to fraud and then we have to fight so hard to try and stop it and bring it back,' he told Public Finance.

'I'd much rather see us working harder in the area of policy. Tighten up our policy in the area of fraud prevention so the NHS doesn't lose money in the first instance.'

McCausland said the effect of some preventive work was already beginning to be felt, with a marked decrease in the number of falsified timesheets submitted by bank and agency nurses. New GP and dental contracts were also 'fraud-proofed' by the service before they went out, he added.

'Again, it's to try and minimise the risk of losing money in the first instance. And we'll be measuring that in the future to see what impact it has.'


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