NHS Lothian claws back over £100,00 of fraud money
LOTHIAN health bosses have recovered more than £100,000 from fraudsters over the last three years.
The money has been clawed back from over 2200 people who made false claims.
But health boards have apparently recovered less than one per cent of the cash lost to the NHS as a result of patient fraud.
The NHS counter-fraud service estimates that the problem costs Scottish health boards £110 million every year.
Figures, disclosed through a freedom of information request by the Conservatives, show that NHS boards across Scotland recovered only around £540,000 of money lost as a result of fraud.
Health spokesman and deputy Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw branded those who defraud the NHS the “lowest of the low” as he urged the Scottish Government to do more to tackle the problem.
Mr Carlaw also called on the courts to deal with those who carry out such crimes in the “most severe way they can”.
Figures show that health boards recorded a total of 15,360 incidents of fraud, carried out by patients between 2009 and 2012,
They also show that the number of cases of fraud by patients, which could include people falsely claiming travel expenses to appointments, or lying to the NHS about their benefit entitlement to claim treatment or travel costs, is increasing.
The health boards that responded to the requests recorded 5398 incidents of patient fraud in 2011-12, compared with 4,994 in 2009-10.
Mr Carlaw said: “People who defraud the NHS may not think it, but they are putting lives and jobs at risk. Stealing from hospitals is the lowest of the low, and something we can ill afford in times like this.”
He added that fraud simply siphoned off money that could be spent improving services
NHS Scotland estimates more than £100 million is lost each year through fraud. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Any fraud against the health service is unacceptable and, in line with Scottish Government policy, there must be zero tolerance of fraud”.
A spokesman for the NHS’s Counter Fraud Service (CFS) pointed out that the recovered money includes cash claimed in error, as well as from fraudulent claims.
“CFS is committed to reducing fraud and corruption in NHS Scotland. The wider public regard fraud against the NHS as totally unacceptable,” he said.
“The figures noted today do not refer to investigations. They are simply part of the 60,000 routine checks we carry out each year for fraud or error.
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