The impact of COVID-19

How the pandemic has affected fraud reporting levels, the accuracy of activity data and the level of resources to combat fraud.

Published: 22/07/2022

To reduce transmission of COVID-19, prevent an unprecedented strain on public services and save lives the government introduced a multitude of restrictions and emergency funding streams. With the NHS at the epicentre of the government’s plan to tackle the pandemic, it was directly affected. Including through the procurement of supplies , COVID-19 testing and delivery of the vaccine programme.

Although the majority of the population perceived the crisis as a time to unite and protect others, some saw it as a financial opportunity. During times of widespread trepidation, opportunistic criminals and organised crime groups (OCGs) adapted and developed exploitative schemes targeted not just at the NHS in England but also the public themselves.

Part of the NHSCFA’s response to the pandemic included production of the COVID-19 threat assessments. During February 2020 and February 2022, a total of 22 assessments were produced to inform the counter fraud community and central government of new emerging areas of concerns. These include;

  • 186 identified threats within the current thematic areas
  • 66 non fraud related warnings
  • 32 updates on changes to methodologies or vulnerabilities
  • Geo-spatial analysis of allegations made direct to the NHSCFA

The assessments supported the NHSCFAs stakeholders, local government and the wider government in proactively detecting and deterring fraud in the NHS throughout the pandemic. Additionally, the fraud reference guide was adapted, and essential post assurance work was conducted through stakeholder collaboration.

COVID-19 reporting by thematic area April 2021 to March 2022

Thematic area Number of reports
Procurement & Commissioning 810
NHS Staff 238
Patient Exemption 117
GP contractor 24
Conmunity Pharmaceutical Contractor 21
Fraudulent access 10
Dental Contractor 8
Data Manipulation 1
Reciprocal Healthcare 1