Home News NHS Counter Fraud Authority launches in determined bid to lead fight against fraud

NHS Counter Fraud Authority launches in determined bid to lead fight against fraud

by Brian Sims

The new NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) has been given the independence it needs to fight and deter fraud, bribery and corruption that attacks the NHS. It’s a Centre of Excellence employing specialists in intelligence, fraud prevention, computer forensics, fraud investigation, financial investigation, data analysis and communications, all of them working together to detect, reduce and deter economic crime targeting the NHS.

Having launched this month, the NHSCFA’s work begins with a focus on five areas. The organisation will be the single expert, intelligence-led organisation providing a centralised investigation capacity for complex economic crime matters in the NHS, support the Department of Health’s strategy for tackling fraudulent activity affecting the NHS, serve as the body leading and influencing the improvement of standards in counter fraud work across the NHS, take the lead in and encourage fraud reporting across the NHS and the wider health group and, last but not least, continue to develop the expertise of staff working for the NHSCFA.

Sue Frith, interim CEO of the NHSCFA, said: “As a new, independent, intelligence-led special health authority, we’re wholly dedicated to tackling fraud against the NHS in England. Our creation is good news for the taxpayer, for patients and for the honest majority working in and with the NHS. I’m proud to be leading the new NHS Counter Fraud Authority as we embark on this fight against the fraudsters who target the NHS. I’m working alongside our Board and all of our dedicated staff. We’re delighted to have full backing across the Government and the wider NHS and among many other key stakeholders.”

Simon Hughes, interim chairman of the NHSCFA, added: “Some of the challenges faced in this work include a limited awareness of fraud among NHS staff and the significant under-reporting of fraud. Many people find it unthinkable that anyone would seek to defraud money meant for healthcare. Our ability to counter fraud has a direct impact on healthcare. Every fraud takes a service away from someone who needs it. This reality must be faced. We can all play our part in turning the tide, ensuring that public money pays for services the public needs and doesn’t line the pockets of criminals. We all use the NHS and will all benefit from securing its resources.”

Hughes went on to state: “Establishing the NHS Counter Fraud Authority strengthens our resolve in fighting fraud, bribery and corruption, protecting healthcare and supporting the many thousands of dedicated health service staff, suppliers and contractors.”

Undermining public confidence

Lord O’Shaughnessy, the health minister, observed: “Fraud in the healthcare system not only undermines public confidence in the NHS, but also diverts valuable resources away from caring for patients. It’s estimated that prescription fraud alone costs the NHS somewhere in the region of £217 million each year. We created the NHS Counter Fraud Authority so that, for the first time, there’s a dedicated NHS organisation to tackle health service fraud and corruption and bring fraudsters to justice.”

Paul Baumann, CFO at NHS England, explained: “The NHS is committed to providing safe and high quality care to patients while securing the best possible value for taxpayers’ money. It’s essential that this ambition isn’t undermined by fraud. We welcome the creation of the new NHS Counter Fraud Authority.”

Jim Mackey, CEO of NHS Improvement, outlined: “We will work hard to support the NHS Counter Fraud Authority. Our mission is to ensure that the NHS receives the help it needs in order to continue to provide safe and high quality care while managing its finances effectively. Fraud in the NHS is unacceptable and harmful to patients, staff and the NHS as a whole.”

Danny Mortimer, CEO of NHS Employers, informed Risk UK: “Currently, a significant amount of money is lost to the NHS each year through fraudulent behaviour so we very much welcome the launch of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority to tackle this serious issue. The organisation will support the NHS to develop the open culture whereby each and every member of staff feels confident to report any concerns. It’s totally unacceptable that the money lost each year is depriving patients of investment in their services.”

Mark Hallas, CEO at Crimestoppers, concluded: “We look forward to working successfully with the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, as we have done with its predecessors. At Crimestoppers, we’ve long provided telephone lines for NHS staff to call with 100% anonymity and report suspected cases of fraud. If they encounter something suspicious it can be hard for NHS staff to take the next step to report it. With our anonymous reporting service, we’re able to give staff the confidence to speak up.”

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