Fraudbuster helps save NHS millions

FRAUD buster Wendy Boother is helping to save the NHS millions of pounds by catching out conmen who try to steal the very funds that save lives.

FRAUD buster Wendy Boother is helping to save the NHS millions of pounds by catching out conmen who try to steal the very funds that save lives.

Ipswich Hospital is making fraud one of their top priorities and now all staff are to be given specialist training to combat the crooks.

In one incident scammers tried to trick Ipswich Hospital out of £8,000 for publicity in a national year book, but luckily hospital staff saw through the ruse.

Fraud costs the NHS £70million each year and in Suffolk there is the potential to lose £1.8million in prescription fraud alone.

But thanks to Mrs Boother's work much of that can be prevented and she believes it is vital that more work is done.

She combats fraud for Ipswich Hospital, Suffolk Primary Care Trust and also Suffolk Mental Health Partnership.

Most Read

Mrs Boother said: “The most common type of fraud is working while off sick, inflating travel claims and expenses claims or not declaring a second job.

“We have people who play different jobs off against each other, pretending to be sick at one job and working somewhere else.

“There is also inappropriate use of NHS resources, such as a phone or a car.”

Often the tricksters come undone, as did a man trying to pick up bogus Viagra prescriptions who had targeted pharmacists across southern England and was eventually foiled in Suffolk.

Mrs Boother added: “It is important that we all work together. If someone has tried something somewhere they will probably try somewhere else too.”

Mrs Boother said as well as tackling fraud committed by NHS staff she also dealt with irregularities in invoices from GPs, pharmacists and dentists, and the potential of the NHS being defrauded by independent contractors.

She added that she investigates between ten and 20 cases of fraud a year in Suffolk, but she refused the reveal how much money was involved in the cases.

But she said that the vast majority of people working for or with the health service were moral and honest, and she wanted them to help tackle the problem.

“We want people to have a healthy level of suspicion and to be confident to speak if they have concerns,” she said.

“I need them to be my eyes and ears.”

n> Have you been the victim of a scam? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

CON artists phoned the hospital pretending to be from the Department of Health and demanded a payment of around £8,000 on the spot to pay for what they claimed would be brilliant publicity in a national year book.

Thankfully the hospital saw through the ruse, as did staff at Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), who tricksters tried to coax £2,500 out of in a similar hoax.

Wendy Boother, a counter fraud specialist working with NHS organisations in Suffolk, said: “The scammers will ring up on a Friday afternoon and try to get the wrong person and try to make them make a decision on the spot and then send an invoice for thousands of pounds.

“Some of them will say some amazing thing to get caring members of staff to do what they want, like 'oh please help me, I've got a deadline'. Caring people can be vulnerable to this.

“Scammers will use all sorts of methods and they can make letterheads and stationery look realistic.”

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital's spokeswoman, added: “They were trying to persuade NHS trusts to take out advertising in a book.

“They rang up and they said that they were actually the director of infection control and prevention and that the hospital had been selected as one of the top three in the country because of great work and they were going to publish a book with this information in.

“They said it was such an honour to be asked but they needed then and there to be paid £8,000 towards printing costs.”

She said the member of staff on the phone call was not fooled and alerted hospital bosses to the situation.