Spotlight fixed on health fraud

FRAUDSTERS who con the NHS out of thousands of pounds of public money every year will come under the spotlight next month.October is the second NHS Fraud Awareness Month (NHS FAM) and the NHS Counter Fraud team will be visiting hospitals across the east of England to spread the message.

FRAUDSTERS who con the NHS out of thousands of pounds of public money every year will come under the spotlight next month.

October is the second NHS Fraud Awareness Month (NHS FAM) and the NHS Counter Fraud team will be visiting hospitals across the east of England to spread the message.

Fraud in the NHS can take many forms from patients fiddling prescriptions for drugs, to nurses lying on timesheets.

At present there are 52 on-going investigations into fraud within the NHS in the eastern region (Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridge, Herts, Beds).


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A spokeswoman for the Ipswich Primary Care Trust said: "Incidences of fraud in east Suffolk are very small but we welcome any moves to clamp down on it.

"Because we are publicly funded and publicly accountable there has to be a huge degree of scrutiny.

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"We sign up to a strict code of conduct to protect patients and staff, and to make best use of public money.

"All of the PCTs in the area seek to get the very best value from every penny we are given to improve patient care, and that's why tackling fraud is so important."

The NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (CFSMS) is run at "arm's length" from the NHS, so that it can investigate and suspected fraud independently.

Throughout October CFSMS staff will be visiting 200 hospital sites all over England and Wales and meeting an estimated 150,000 NHS staff and patients.

They will be at the James Paget hospital in Gorleston on October 6 and at a number of hospitals in Essex throughout the remainder of the month.

At every site there will be a regional NHS CFSMS representative and a local counter fraud specialist on hand to talk to NHS staff and patients about fraud in their area and what they can do locally to tackle it.

Health minister Lord Warner said: "NHS fraud affects every person in the UK.

"The theft of NHS money means doctors and nurses are being deprived of resources they need to treat the sick and save lives, which is why NHS Fraud Awareness Month 2004 is so important.

"Awareness of NHS fraud, and the role the wider NHS and society have in tackling it, is crucial to our war on the NHS fraudster."

Jim Gee Chief Executive of the NHS CFSMS said: "Changing the perception of fraud is central to stopping it. By meeting people and informing them of the effect it can have on the NHS, we will create a culture where fraud will not be tolerated."

If you suspect anyone of trying to defraud the NHS call the fraud and corruption reporting line on 08702 400 100.

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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