The Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, has announced new plans to take action on NHS fraud thanks to a partnership with a leading fraud prevention service. Every year, fraud costs the NHS £256 million a year. With the new plans to take tougher action against fraud rolled out over the next five years, they hope to save millions of pounds. Subsequently, this should free up funds to improve patient care.
One area that suffers from fraud is prescription services. One of the first measures put in place will be digitising prescription exemptions. This will make it easier for pharmacists to check whether patients are exempt from paying charges. The scheme will be piloted in 2019 and rolled out across the NHS shortly afterwards.
Other methods of NHS fraud that will be tackled with the new measures include a partnership between Cifas, a fraud prevention service, and the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA). This partnership will mean counter-fraud professionals will have access to the data held by Cifas.
The NHSCFA will also partner with the NHS Business Services Authority to share information about the pharmacists and dentists who are charging the NHS for services they have not carried out.
These actions come after the NHSCFA, which was set up in 2017 to replace NHS Protect, will grow. There will be a new counter-fraud profession in the government which will have 10,000 counter-fraud specialists. 400 of these will focus on fraud in the NHS.
After announcing the new measures to tackle fraud, Matt Hancock said; “We’re determined to make sure every penny of the extra funding we are giving the NHS as part of our long-term plan is properly spent. The message is clear: the NHS is no longer an easy target, and if you try to steal from it you will face the consequences.”
The interim CEO of NHS Counter Fraud Authority said; “The more data sets we are able to access from partners such as Cifas and the NHS Business Services Authority, the more fraud we can detect and prevent. NHSCFA are actively engaging with the fintech sector to identify technological solutions that could enhance data examination and exploitation capability.”