Our work during the COVID-19 pandemic

A message from NHSCFA Chief Executive Officer Susan Frith

Published: 19 March 2020

Image of a virus cell

Dear colleagues

Firstly, I would like to thank all of you for the hard work that I know you are all doing in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I’ve already been hearing stories about the efforts that everyone is going to and would like to take this opportunity from all of us at NHS Counter Fraud Authority to say thank you.

Many of you will be involved in your organisation’s response to COVID-19, and I am aware of the increased amount of work required across the NHS. If you do need any support for counter fraud work or advice on how to prevent fraud during this time, please don’t hesitate to contact us. During times of crisis, we know that there are people who take advantage and we are already seeing scams being set up to defraud during this pandemic. The areas of highest risk that we are aware of are mandate (invoice) and procurement fraud and we know from experience that criminals will target any vulnerability.

We also recognise that, as well as being exposed to new fraud risks as a result of coronavirus, there is likely to be a significant impact on counter fraud work going into the 2020-21 financial year. We want to support you to manage your fraud risk and we will share any fraud risk information identified through our work with the Cabinet Office Centre of Fraud Expertise. I am sure you will remain vigilant and report to us any fraud relating to the current situation.

If you suspect any fraud, please report it via our website at cfa.nhs.uk/report-fraud. We are committed to supporting the NHS during this global health emergency.

During this difficult time, we will be continuing as much of our work as possible to protect the NHS from fraud. We will be trying to run as close to business as usual as possible but have highlighted some changes below and we will be reviewing the position regularly.

Engagement visits from our quality and compliance unit

We have taken the decision not to arrange any new engagement visits.

We will however be following up with Local Counter Fraud Specialists (LCFSs) over the phone to discuss any issues that may need to be addressed. This will allow work to be completed where appropriate.

Self Review Tool (SRT)

We have initially extended the deadline for the annual counter fraud self-review process (SRT) to 31 May 2020 and will keep this under review. We are aware that some organisations are able to complete this by the original deadline (30 April 2020), and would encourage organisations to do this wherever possible.

The SRT process requires no personal contact as it has been designed to enable electronic sign off and review. If there are any concerns re completion, for whatever reason, please contact fraudqa@nhscfa.gsi.gov.uk

To support audit committee chairs in the completion of SRT, we will re issue the user guide. Please note that finance directors and LCFSs will also receive the guide to provide any necessary support.

Procurement exercise

Further to the email we sent on 16 March to update you on the National Procurement Exercise, we would like to acknowledge and allay the concerns of our NHS colleagues during this time.

We are monitoring the developments around COVID-19 and the potential impact of gathering information for the exercise. As there are new developments every day we will continue to monitor and update you. If you have any questions relating to the procurement exercise, please email procurement@nhscfa.gsi.gov.uk.

Finally, over the course of the coming weeks and months, we may need to introduce new and different ways of working together so will update you again as and when required.

If you have any questions, please let me know by replying to this email.

Kind regards,

Susan Frith
Chief Executive Officer

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