According to our latest estimate, fraud costs the NHS £1.27 billion a year - enough money to pay for over 40,000 staff nurses, or to purchase over 5,000 frontline ambulances. This is taxpayers' money that is taken away from patient care and falls into the hands of criminals.

When we say 'fraud', we refer to a range of economic crimes, such as fraud, bribery and corruption or any other illegal acts committed by an individual or group of individuals to obtain a financial or professional gain.

Who pays for NHS fraud?

This short animation provides examples of different types of fraud affecting the NHS, highlights the impact of NHS fraud and explains how to report it.

While those who commit fraud against the NHS are a minority, they are having a serious impact on us all. Experience shows that this minority can include all kinds of people, from patients to NHS staff, from contractors to members of the public and organised criminals. It is important to recognise the diversity of people who commit fraud. They look no different to anyone else.

Types of NHS fraud

Fraud against the NHS takes many forms; here are just a few examples:

  • False claims - This can range from patients claiming for free treatment when they are not entitled to it, to NHS professionals claiming money for services they have not provided.
  • Payment diversion fraud - This happens when fraudsters trick an NHS organisation into paying money to them, for example by pretending to be from one of the organisation's regular suppliers.
  • Procurement fraud - This relates to the purchasing of goods and services by an NHS organisation. An example is bid rigging, when bidders agree between themselves to eliminate competition, denying the organisation a fair price or delivering poor quality goods or services.
  • Misrepresentation of qualifications or experience - This occurs when someone applying for a job claims to have qualifications or experience they do not actually have. This is particularly serious if it occurs in senior and medical positions.
  • Timesheet fraud - This happens when staff falsify their timesheets, for example to obtain payment for hours they have not actually worked.

For more information on the various types of NHS frauds please visit our NHS Fraud Reference Guide.

How you can help

Fraud has been identified as the crime that people are most likely to experience in the UK, and no individual or organisation is immune from the risk. The NHSCFA is equipped and determined to lead the fight against fraud affecting the NHS, but everyone has a part to play in combating fraud.

The first steps are being aware of the risk and remaining vigilant. You should also know how to report any suspicions or concerns you may have about fraud.

It is easy to report fraud, bribery or corruption affecting the NHS. You can call our anonymous, 24-hour reporting line on 0800 028 4060 (powered by Crimestoppers). You can also report online, completely confidentially - please visit our Report fraud page, where you can also find more information about reporting fraud.

By reporting fraud you can help the NHSCFA to ensure offenders are brought to justice and that money is returned to the NHS to care for patients. Reporting fraud will also help us to form a better picture of fraud risks and trends so that the NHS is better equipped to prevent fraud.