Headlines: February 1st, 2002

Counter fraud measures introduced in the NHS in 1998 have reversed the trend of steadily increasing loss to the health service through fraudulent activity. Figures for the last three years show that losses caused by patient prescription fraud have been cut by 41 per cent, down from 117 million pounds a year to 69 million pounds. Fraud by NHS staff has been reduced in some areas by 30 per cent. Monies recovered for the NHS have increased tenfold since 1998 to 9 million pounds.The Directorate of Counter Fraud Services was set up in 1998 with a remit to counter all fraud and corruption in the NHS with a specific priority for countering fraud in the Family Health Services. The Directorate recruited 400 fraud specialists and set up anti fraud teams in each of the eight NHS regions with specialist teams dealing with Dental & Pharmaceutical fraud.

The fight against fraud in the NHS has been strengthened by a new agreement with the Association of the Chief Police Officers. The Memorandum of Understanding will improve the working relationship with the police. It will define how they will work together when police powers are needed for search, arrests and financial investigations in connection with criminal activity in the NHS. A similar Memorandum of Understanding with the Audit Commission is already in place. It sets out arrangements, powers and responsibilities of the Directorate, the Audit Commission and the Audit Commission’s appointed auditors, in relation to each other, to combat fraud and corruption in the NHS.