As the CEO of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, my focus is
on saving money for the NHS. It is that simple. Fraud is an
insidious and despicable crime that diverts much needed funds away
from where they are required to provide patient care. Everyone who
values the NHS should be concerned about this and engaged in the
work needed to fight against fraud.
We know that there are financial challenges for the NHS and
across the public sector and in order to make sure that money
available for healthcare is not lost, diverted or stolen we need
to take the threat of fraud seriously.
So, what are the challenges:
- Fraud is a hidden crime. Fraudsters hide what they do and
can be ruthless and clever in their manipulation of systems and
people. To fight it, you have to find it.
- Fraudsters are always going to look for the weakness in
systems. They will spend time and effort looking for
vulnerabilities, and when they find one, they will try to exploit
it and then cover their tracks.
- A fraudster only has to be successful once to make money.
Those who are responsible for keeping the NHS protected from
fraud - whether at a central, local, or individual level - have
to be vigilant all of the time.
Most of those who work in and use the NHS are honest, but
that is no reason to ignore the very real threat posed by fraud.
At the NHSCFA, we want to help the fight against fraud, help
organisations to understand it, find it and stop it. As with
health, prevention is so important and better than cure. The
tricky part is finding fraud in the first place, so that it can be
prevented. Of course, preventing something that cannot easily be
seen and that you may even doubt is happening in your organisation
is not easy.
Being open about the problem and addressing it at a
strategic level is essential. This means raising awareness of how
fraud is committed, how to report it, being positive about finding
fraud and making sure those reporting it are supported and helped
to do so. Of course, vigilance in spotting this hidden risk is
also really important.
We will be highlighting all this in a few weeks as we join
hundreds of organisations around the world in marking
International Fraud Awareness Week (17-23 November). We are
planning a national campaign and look forward to working with our
partners across the NHS and beyond in raising awareness of NHS
It has been a privilege for me to lead the NHSCFA since it
was established just under two years ago, and we have achieved a
great deal during this time. As we continue to focus on reducing
the impact of fraud on NHS funds, we need to think about how we
can work with all NHS organisations as partners so we can
demonstrate the value of effective counter fraud work. I will say
more about this in my next article.