An article introducing the NHS Counter Fraud Authority’s latest guidance on preventing fraud in NHS procurement and finance processes.
A significant amount of NHS money is spent each year on buying goods and services that contribute to the delivery of patient care and the overall running of our NHS hospitals and services. Although the NHS has many safeguards in place in its systems and processes, fraud can and still does occur. What we mean by fraud here is where someone takes deliberate steps to mislead an organisation, in our case the NHS, for their own financial gain. The NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) estimates the loss to the NHS from procurement fraud as £351 million (2017-18) each year. This is taxpayers’ money that could be spent on employing staff sourcing equipment or purchasing more frontline ambulances, rather than going into the hands of criminals.
To reduce the risk of procurement fraud, the NHSCFA has produced new guidance, in the form of eight fraud prevention quick guides focusing on specific areas of fraud risk. The purpose of the quick guides is to alert NHS staff to known fraud risks and provide clear and practical information on effective measures staff and managers can take to identify and stop fraud and improve their own systems. Each guide includes a brief overview of the fraud risk, along with information on how to spot fraud, how to stop it and how to report any suspicions of fraud.
The quick guides
Three of the quick guides cover the fraud risk areas which have been the focus of the NHSCFA’s national exercise on the prevention of procurement fraud this year:
- Contract splitting
- Contract reviews
- Buying goods and services.
The next three are designed to support staff in dealing with fraud risk management relating to:
- Mandate fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Petty cash.
The remaining two quick guides have been designed to promote good practice relating to:
- Due diligence
- Suppliers’ code of conduct: preventing fraud, bribery and corruption.
Staff are encouraged to read the quick guides and think about how their content applies to their own areas of work, particularly if they have responsibilities for requisitioning goods and services, approving invoices, processing invoices and payments, supplier relationship management and are involved in the procurement process.
Staff should also speak to their colleagues and managers about ways in which they can prevent fraud in their areas, for example updating polices or SOPs. If there are any concerns about potential fraud in your area, you can call or email your dedicated Local Counter Fraud Specialist on (please add details XXXXXX).
You can also report fraud directly to the NHSCFA using the 24-hour reporting line on 0800 028 4060 (powered by Crimestoppers). You can also report online, please visit NHSCFA’s Report fraud page, where you can also find more information about reporting fraud. All reports are treated in confidence and you have the option to report anonymously.
By reporting fraud, you can help your organisation and the NHSCFA to ensure offenders are brought to justice and that money is returned to the NHS to improve care for patients.