Minister pledges to crack down on £100m NHS fraud
FRAUDSTERS who cost the NHS up to £100 million a year are to face a new crackdown, Andy Kerr, the health minister, announced yesterday.
The NHS Counter Fraud Service has saved the health service in Scotland about 10.7 million since it was set up in 2000. But with up to 100 million going missing from NHS coffers every year, Mr Kerr wants a tougher stance to end scams such as claiming money for medicines that are never dispensed.
He said: "I want to make it clear that fraud against the NHS will not be tolerated. Legal action will be taken where necessary."
Mr Kerr said the threat of civil action had led to one optician repaying NHS Scotland more than 13,000 after he submitted claims for unnecessary glasses, while a GP receptionist had been given community service for stealing prescription forms and obtaining drugs by fraud.
But stricter rules are in the pipeline after the auditor- general's warning that up to 100 million is lost every year. More fraudsters are expected to be caught by methods such as checking patients' exemptions to prescription costs with the relevant government agency and investigating doctors claiming for visits that are never made.
Mr Kerr said the key to ending fraud was to encourage NHS staff and patients to report it. "It is not a victimless crime and tackling it is a shared responsibility," he said. "NHS staff, healthcare professionals and the general public can help prevent resources being drained from the NHS."
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