Project Athena - A new way of tackling fraud in the NHS

An innovative project to find fraud and prevent losses to the NHS through the way data is collected has been launched by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA).

Published: 21 February 2024

Project Athena is a new pilot project aiming to both prevent fraud and deliver a dedicated response by identifying patterns in data on a scale that has never been done before across the NHS for counter fraud purposes.

It will give the NHSCFA the expertise to focus on key areas using data analytics. This will mean that more fraud can not only be detected, but also prevented.

Data analytics is already used across the NHS and is growing in importance in a wide range of areas, from health innovation and clinical decision making, through to patient access. Project Athena will be using data analytics, combined with the practical expertise and knowledge of the NHSCFA, to reduce potential fraud losses to the NHS by ensuring that funding goes to where it is intended - patient care.

This builds on the existing work of the NHSCFA, which is a special health authority leading the fight against fraud, bribery and corruption in the NHS, by increasing capacity and capability to analyse data.

Alex Rothwell, Chief Executive Officer of the NHSCFA, said:

“By using analytical techniques and tooling, alongside our deep understanding of fraud against the NHS, Project Athena will enable the NHSCFA to reduce losses from fraud so that money is redirected back into patient care.

“I am delighted the Department of Health and Social Care recognises the critical role counter fraud professionals play in enabling the NHS to deliver on its core objectives.”

A dedicated team is now being set up to lead the development of Project Athena, which has received the backing of the Department of Health and Social Care. A key focus of the team’s work will be prevention by finding patterns in data which are indicators of fraud.

Health Minister, Lord Markham said:

“The Government is determined to crack down on NHS fraud and ensure that every penny of taxpayers’ money is spent on improving patient care.

“It is vital that we counter the ever-more sophisticated methods used by fraudsters targeting the NHS.

“Project Athena will use the latest data analytics tools to help the NHS stay ahead of the game, not only identifying cases of fraud, but preventing them from happening in the first place.”

For more information contact the NHSCFA press office on

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