Fraud in the NHS: You Need to Find It to Fight It

Sue Frith

Sue Frith

The hidden nature of fraud means that the first step in tackling it is finding it, as Sue Frith explains in her first article since recently being appointed permanent CEO of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA).

As the CEO of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, my focus is very much on saving money for the NHS. It’s that simple. Fraud is an insidious and despicable crime that diverts much needed funds away from where they’re required to provide patient care. Everyone who truly values the NHS should be hugely concerned about this and actively engaged in the work needed to fight against fraud.

We know that there are financial challenges for the NHS and, indeed, right across the public sector. In order to make sure that money available for healthcare isn’t lost, diverted or stolen we need to take the threat of fraud seriously.

What, then, are the challenges?

Fraud is a hidden crime. Fraudsters hide what they do and can be ruthless and clever in their manipulation of systems and people. To fight it, you have to find it.

Fraudsters are always going to look for the weakness in systems. They will spend time and effort looking for vulnerabilities and, when they find one, they will try to exploit it and then cover their tracks.

A fraudster only has to be successful once to make money. Those who are responsible for keeping the NHS protected from fraud – whether at a central, local or individual level – have to be vigilant all of the time.

Most of those who work in and use the NHS are honest, but that’s no reason to ignore the very real threat posed by fraud. At the NHSCFA, we want to help the fight against fraud, help organisations to understand it, find it and stop it. As with health, prevention is better than cure and so important. The tricky part is finding fraud in the first place so that it can be prevented. Of course, preventing something that cannot easily be seen and that you may even doubt is happening in your organisation isn’t easy.

Being open about the problem and addressing it at a strategic level is essential. This means raising awareness of how fraud’s committed, how to report it, being positive about finding fraud and making sure those reporting it are supported and assisted to do so. Of course, vigilance in spotting this hidden risk is also really important.

We will be highlighting all this in a few weeks’ time as we join hundreds of organisations around the world in marking International Fraud Awareness Week, which this year runs from 17-23 November. We’re planning a national campaign and very much look forward to working with our partners across the NHS and beyond in raising awareness of NHS fraud.

It has been a privilege for me to lead the NHSCFA since it was established just under two years ago. We’ve achieved a great deal during this time. As we continue to focus on reducing the impact of fraud on NHS funds, we need to think carefully about how we can work with all NHS organisations as partners such that we can demonstrate the value of effective counter fraud work.

Sue Frith is CEO of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority

*NHSCFA Copyright 2019. Licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

Related Posts