Kevin Cane, fraud prevention manager at the NHSCFA

Kevin Cane, Fraud Prevention Manager at NHSCFA

The NHS is one of the biggest publicly-funded healthcare systems in the world. Recent information suggests that NHS non-pay spend is approximately £27 billion each year and it is clear that the procurement of goods and services is essential to keeping the NHS running.

The levels of fraud reporting within procurement are very low but it is a huge area of spend and activity, crossing all sectors of the NHS. The NHSCFA estimates that in 2015-16, the loss to procurement fraud was £252m. Procurement and commissioning fraud, with a particular focus on post-contract invoice manipulation, is one of our organisational priorities for the 2018-19 financial year.

Today we publish two updated guidance documents covering pre-contract and post-contract procurement fraud. The documents, developed in consultation with Local Counter Fraud Specialists (LCFSs) and specialist procurement hubs, provide guidance for the prevention and detection of these types of fraud in the NHS.

The risk of fraud is ever present throughout the procurement process; from the word go, where the decision is made to either buy or commission goods and services, all the way through to the invoicing stage. It is therefore vital that particularly LCFSs, finance staff and procurement staff understand the key threats facing the NHS in these areas in order to protect the NHS’s vital resources.

Fraud can have a lasting impact on any NHS organisation. While it is vital that senior figures take the risk of fraud seriously, it is equally important that all relevant staff within the organisation are aligned to a single strategy in countering fraud. By acknowledging the risks and understanding the threat, your NHS organisation will be better equipped to reducing the impact of fraud and driving improvements in working practices.

As a result, the two guidance documents have been produced by the NHSCFA to provide LCFSs, finance staff and procurement staff with an understanding of how fraud can affect both the pre-contract and invoicing stages of the procurement process. The documents provide an introduction to the subject areas, an overview of the NHS procurement and invoicing environment and practical advice on the most effective ways of preventing and detecting fraud and how to report suspected fraud and corruption. Previous versions of the guidance, published by our predecessor organisation NHS Protect, were available to LCFSs and directors of finance only on our secure extranet.

The NHS Fraud Prevention team develops and issues guidance on fraud prevention. If you would like further information please email us: prevention@nhscfa.gsi.gov.uk.