NHS staff

Fraud relating to members of NHS staff who fraudulently inflate or falsify their income, expenses or working hours for financial gain, or who assume a false identity.

NHS staff fraud encompasses staff manipulating income and hours, insider abuses and false representation during application processes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the NHS in a seismic way, including some staff working from home, others being redeployed, recruitment of volunteers, retired individuals returning to work, the introduction of the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport and the requirement for some to self-isolate or shield.

£22.5m

vulnerable from an expenditure of £10.95 billion

As the landscape changed some NHS Staff applied existing fraud methodologies to new circumstances. These potential exploitations include presenting a false positive COVID-19 test or long term COVID-19 symptoms to acquire full paid sickness leave yet work elsewhere instead. It is also highly likely that some staff were working ‘on call’ for the NHS or shielding with full pay, yet performing private work for agencies etc.

It is extremely likely that a small number of staff inflated their hours by continuing to claim for shifts which were not performed. Especially with the realistic possibility of a manager colluding with an employee over timesheets, or even altering pay bands to enhance pay. Certain services were reduced during the pandemic and some trusts had web-based systems to record shifts.

There is a realistic possibility that a fraction of NHS staff appropriated COVID-19 vaccines, including to sell or administer to associates. Additionally, it is almost certain that a number of NHS staff have been falsifying vaccine records for individuals in exchange for payment.

The government’s mandate to NHSE&I incudes the priority commitment for the recruitment of an additional 50,000 NHS nurses . A large recruitment drive could directly increase reporting on applications containing false information, for example fake references or providing counterfeit documents. The NHSCFA will continue to monitor reporting for any increase directly correlated with the recruitment drive. Additionally, the 2021 3% pay uplift for NHS staff and a further potential increase in 2022 may naturally increase the amount that is financially vulnerable to manipulation rather than an indication of increased risk.

Information reports received for NHS staff

A majority of the reports received around NHS staff fraud relate to income and hours manipulations, including working elsewhere, manipulating timesheets and sickness. The increase in reporting within NHS staff fraud could therefore be attributed to a combination of the COVID-19 related changes mentioned above. However, the financial figure vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation decreased this year. This is most likely due to the figure of potential loss being derived from non-basic pay expenditure and sickness absence, but not staff expenditure in its entirety.

24.82%

increase in reporting compared to last year

The change in the number of fraud reports (allegations) received in relation to NHS Staff from 2017-18 to 2021-22:

2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2020 to 2021 2021 to 2022
2160 2307 2218 1845 2303