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GP consortia ‘should be required to tackle NHS fraud’

By Christian Duffin

GP consortia should have the responsibility to take action on NHS fraud that currently costs around £3.3 billion a year, claim healthcare analysts.

Health think tank 2020health reached this conclusion following an analysis of previous research on public sector fraud and a survey of 357 acute trusts and PCTs, which showed that 13 had undertaken no fraud investigations in one or more of the past three years.

Only one in three survey respondents was prepared to say how much they were spending to detect or prevent fraud, a report accompanying the analysis states.

The report, ‘Stealing the NHS: How careless is the NHS being with our money’, lists common types of NHS fraud. These include health professionals claiming funding for non-existent ‘ghost patients’ and managers faking timesheets and payroll claims. There is also moonlighting and invented absences for sickness. The report estimates fraud such as this costs the NHS around £3.3 billion a year.

Report author Julia Manning, chief executive of 2020health, said: ‘It is still unclear whose responsibility counter fraud will be when PCTs go. Are GP commissioners prepared to take over hitherto PCT responsibilities, and if all NHS trusts are to become foundation trusts, will that mean that scrutiny is even harder?’

She added: ‘The function of GP commissioning consortia is the name of guidance that has been produced for the organisations that are replacing PCTs as conduits of up to £80 billion of public money earmarked for the NHS. It fails to make any mention of NHS counter fraud commissioning or responsibilities. While it couldn’t include every detail, the omission of this vitally important task is worrying.’

GP consortia ‘should be required to tackle NHS fraud’