Publish date: 15 November 2021
This week is International Fraud Awareness Week and it's a chance to remind everyone of their responsibilities in helping protect the NHS from fraudsters and cyber-criminals at this most crucial of times.
As the NHS came under unprecedented pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic, fraud was probably not at the top of most NHS people’s minds. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the criminals who target the NHS for financial gain. Fraudsters are always on the lookout for ways to make money from their victims, and their actions are a growing threat to individuals and organisations alike.
Fraud is estimated to cost the NHS more than £1 billion each year – enough to pay for over 40,000 nurses. Many will be shocked to learn that some people, fortunately a small minority, seek to gain by targeting taxpayer funds that are meant for patient care – particularly at a time when NHS resources are under significant pressure.
Because fraud is a hidden crime, knowing about it is the first step in dealing with it. That’s why this week Mersey Care NHS Foundation is joining hundreds of organisations around the world in marking International Fraud Awareness Week (IFAW), or Fraud Week.
For this year’s Fraud Week we are supporting the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) campaign highlighting the role of professional fraud fighters in the NHS, particularly:
- Anti-Fraud Specialist (AFS’s), who are on the frontline of the fight against NHS fraud and deliver a wide range of counter fraud work (from awareness to prevention to investigations, to name a few)
- Fraud Champions, senior leaders who support the counter fraud agenda at a strategic level within their organisations
NHS people, and the population they serve, know all too well that you don’t need a cape to be a hero. However, we still want to recognise and celebrate the everyday people who protect precious NHS resources from the criminals who target them for personal gain.
Everyone can and should play a part in tackling fraud against the NHS. How?
- By being vigilant and knowing how to spot fraud
- By knowing how to report fraud if you suspect it (see details below)
- By following anti-fraud advice and guidance designed to stop fraud from happening in the first place
- By spreading the anti-fraud message among your networks
The ‘Fraud Champion’ is a relatively new role within NHS counter fraud provision, working in partnership with our Anti-Fraud Specialist Claire Smallman. However, fighting fraud is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation.
- Be vigilant and knowing how to spot fraud
- know how to report fraud if you suspect it
- Follow anti-fraud advice and guidance designed to stop fraud from happening in the first place
Rob Collins, Chief Finance Officer said: “As a fraud champion, I am committed to promoting a zero-tolerance approach to fraud within Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. A key part of my role is promoting awareness of fraud, bribery and corruption. I aim to ensure that money allocated to patient care reaches those who need our services and does not enter the pockets of fraudsters or cyber-criminals. This is why I am fully supporting International Fraud Awareness Week.”
For more information about fraud against the NHS, please visit the NSCFA’s website, follow them on social media (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook), or speak to your Anti-Fraud Specialist who can provide further advice and support, or visit YourSpace where there is additional information and resources that you can access.
MIAA and IMersey have created two short, animated videos covering ‘Fraud in the NHS’ and ‘Fraud awareness incorporating working whilst off sick’ you can follow the links below to watch the videos.
Alternatively, you can report directly to the NHSCFA at cfa.nhs.uk/reportfraud or by calling 0800 028 4060 (available 24 hours). All reports are treated in confidence, and you have the option to report anonymously.