Protecting the NHS from fraud during COVID-19

Increased vigilance is required during the NHS's COVID-19 response to mitigate an increased risk of fraud. Read the information and resources on this page to find out more.

Emergency measures taken during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may pose an increased risk of fraud to the NHS. With the response to COVID-19 placing the NHS under unprecedented pressure, sadly some people will try to take advantage of the situation to commit fraud.

The NHSCFA is monitoring the risk at a national level and we are available to support our colleagues in NHS organisations and counter fraud providers in managing it effectively.

This page provides advice and guidance for the NHS on emerging fraud risks relating to COVID-19, as well as links to resources by some of our stakeholders which may also be helpful. We will keep the information on this page regularly up to date.

Areas of increased fraud risk

With the implementation of emergency measures following the COVID-19 outbreak we have identified an emerging increased risk of fraud in the following areas:

We are monitoring and reviewing specific fraud risks arising as a result of COVID-19 and are developing advice on fraud prevention measures to address them. Guidance on procurement fraud and recruitment fraud is available by clicking the links above.

More generally, the unprecedented pressure the NHS is under will inevitably result in some of the usual checks and controls, for example on staff recruitment or procurement of goods and services, taking second place to supporting service delivery. Keeping fraud risks under review and ensuring counter fraud measures are built into business continuity plans will help to stop precious NHS resources being diverted from patient care.

NHS Fraud Reference Guide

The NHS Fraud Reference Guide (FRG) provides information on different types of fraud committed against the NHS.

We recently launched an expanded version of the guide, providing a detailed look at 13 thematic areas of fraud. For each thematic area, the FRG includes information on how to spot fraud, along with case examples and preventative advice.

By providing a quick introduction to key areas of fraud risk, the guide will help colleagues in the NHS and the wider public improve their understanding of fraud, identify where organisations may be at risk, and adopt appropriate fraud prevention measures.

For further advice on how to identify and prevent specific types of fraud, please visit the Guidance page.

Resources from other organisations

The Cabinet Office has formed a COVID-19 Counter Fraud Response Team to assist the government with its counter fraud response during the pandemic.

The team have published guidance on fraud control in emergency management, which sets out principles for public bodies in mitigating the risk of fraud. While primarily aimed at those administering COVID-19 emergency programmes on behalf of the government, the principles in the guidance have wider application to counter fraud work during the pandemic.

The document COVID-19 Counter Fraud Response Team provides more information about the team and their approach. You can also read the first issue of their newsletter (April 2020).

The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) has produced a range of resources to support its members and the wider NHS finance community during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes materials which will be of interest to those whose responsibilities include counter fraud, for example the briefings Checklist for accepting gifts and donations and NEDs and Covid-19: guidance for non-executive directors and lay members.

Report NHS fraud

If you suspect fraud is being committed against the NHS, report it by using our online reporting form or calling our 24-hour freephone line 0800 028 4060.

For more information please visit the Report NHS fraud page.

More information for counter fraud practitioners and leaders

More information and guidance on COVID-19 related fraud risks and counter fraud measures is available on the NHSCFA’s extranet.

The extranet is available to NHS Local Counter Fraud Specialists, Directors of Finance/Chief Financial Officers and Audit Committee Chairs. If you have any problems accessing the Extranet, please email servicedesk@nhscfa.gov.uk. We will aim to get back to you as quickly as possible but there may be a delay with our response as we are handling more queries than normal.

What if you are a victim of fraud?

We only deal with fraud where the NHS in England and Wales is the victim. However, we are aware that criminals have been targeting individuals with scams relating to COVID-19. We have produced some advice and guidance for NHS staff on how to avoid falling victim of fraud, in line with advice from the City of London Police.

The COVID-19 Counter Fraud Response Team at the Cabinet Office have produced a short guidance document on SMS/text message scams which you may find useful.

If you need to report fraud against individuals, or against organisations other than the NHS (including any frauds in which you are the victim), please contact Action Fraud.

NHSCFA visual identity icon encompassing call to action to report fraud occuring within the NHS.

We estimate that the NHS is vulnerable to £1.21 billion worth of fraud each year.

Report any suspicions or concerns about fraud against the NHS to the NHSCFA.

Help stop NHS Fraud. Start an online report >>

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