Procurement and contracting fraud cost the NHS an estimated £252m in 2015-16, a new-anti fraud body has said.
The NHS Counter Fraud Agency (NHSCFA), launched today, has estimated all types of fraud cost the health service a total of £1.25bn, with procurement fraud the second largest contributor after patient fraud.
One of its aims is to identify problem areas in preventing – and increasing reporting of – invoicing and procurement fraud.
This is the first time the health service has released an official estimate of the cost of fraud to the NHS. The total figure is roughly 1% of the NHS budget.
Independent estimates have previously put the cost of fraud to the NHS at £1bn annually.
Simon Hughes, interim chair of NHSCFA, said: “Every fraud takes a service away from someone that needs it.
“Establishing [NHSCFA] strengthens our resolve in fighting fraud, bribery and corruption, protecting healthcare and supporting the many thousands of dedicated health staff, suppliers and contractors.”
The independent body was launched to improve the way fraud is tackled in the NHS. Currently fraud is significantly under reported in the health service, NHSCFA said.
The health service has an uneven understanding of the nature of fraud, particularly at local levels where counter fraud specialists do not report incidents in an appropriate manner, and the service lacks comprehensive intelligence on specific risks.
NHSCFA will be a centre of excellence within the health service and employ specialists in fraud and financial investigation, data analysis and computer forensics among other things. It will also work closely with NHS Counter Fraud Service Wales.
“Some of the challenges faced in this work include a limited awareness of fraud amongst NHS staff and significant under-reporting of fraud,” said Hughes. “We all use the NHS and will all benefit from securing its resources. Simply reporting your concerns is a powerful action to protect healthcare.”
Patient fraud, including false claims on exemptions on dental and prescription costs, was the single largest area of fraud costing an estimated £397.6m. Dental contractor fraud, including charging the NHS for work that had not been done, cost £120.7m and payroll identity fraud cost £90.6m.
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