Fraud team saves NHS £43m

Carol Gillie
Carol Gillie

THE health service’s counter fraud team has saved NHS Scotland £43 million gross since 2000, with that figure including £8000 recouped by NHS Borders from a former bank nurse who fraudulently claimed for payment of shifts she hadn’t worked.

Other examples nationwide include an anaesthetic assistant jailed for stealing £23,000 worth of medical equipment to sell on eBay; a nursing assistant who claimed for shifts not worked, by forging the signatures of colleagues to validate false claims; a GP who was using false names to obtain prescriptions for opiate drugs for personal use and a part-time administrative worker who claimed almost £40,000 in fraudulent over-time.

Discussing NHS Borders efforts to stamp out fraud in its organisations throughout the region, Carol Gillie, NHS Borders director of finance said, “NHS Borders works closely with NHS Counter Fraud Services to deter, detect and raise awareness of fraud enabling NHS resources to be utilised for the provision of healthcare to the local population.

“With the support of NHS Counter Fraud Services, NHS Borders successfully prosecuted a former bank nurse contracted with the board who fraudulently claimed for payment of shifts not worked. The board recovered £8,000 in monies and the individual was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

“NHS Borders has a fraud policy in place as part of its Code of Corporate Governance, the code details the standards of business conduct required from the board and all employees.”

Discussuing the impact of fraud on the NHS across Scotland, Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson, said: “We will not tolerate fraudulent behaviour in our NHS and the Counter Fraud Services team have strict measures in place to make sure that criminals are caught and brought to justice.

“Whether committed by staff, patients, clinicians or contractors, NHS fraud takes money away from where it is most needed.

“Although many of the cases may seem minor, the cost of fraud to our NHS really adds up. Already £43 million gross has been saved which has been used to provide patient care and not line the pocket of fraudsters.”

Last year, Counter Fraud Services were presented with The European Healthcare Fraud and Corruption Network Award. This was in recognition of the organisation’s innovative use of IT, media and intelligence in carrying out their work.

Since 2000, when it was formed, Counter Fraud Services have saved the NHS £43 million gross (£24 million net).

One of the worst examples against the NHS in Scotland involved a surgical theatre technician who was the subject of a joint investigation by Strathclyde Police and CFS after it was identified that he had stolen equipment and surgical items from a number of hospitals and was selling them on eBay.

More than 200 items of surgical equipment and supplies were found in his garage - such as skull drill bits and surgical implants - which he was selling on eBay to buyers as far afield as Australia, the Far East, and America.

In 2010, the technician pleaded guilty to stealing £23,000 worth of equipment and surgical items and was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

And in a similar case of the Borders bank nurse but more severe, an investigation was undertaken into an administration assistant who was making claims for hours that she had never worked, both in her role as an administration assistant and as a part-time hospital cleaner. False claims amounting to nearly £40,000 were identified.

In 2010, the employee pleaded guilty to a charge of defrauding the health service and was jailed for eight months.