Healthcare fraud is a blight on Health and Social Care - Wells

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That is the message from the Health Minister, Jim Wells as he highlighted Business Services Organisation’s participation in International Fraud Awareness Week.

Counter Fraud Services (CFS), part of the Business Services Organisation (BSO) has the responsibility to work in conjunction with all HSC organisations to prevent, investigate and detect fraud.

In order to promote the zero tolerance fraud message and increase fraud awareness throughout the HSC and the wider public, Counter Fraud Services will be participating in International Fraud Awareness Week from 16-22 November 2014.

Various activities, including road-shows at key hospital sites, engaging with both staff and the public, staff surveys to assess levels of knowledge, electronic desk alerts to reiterate the zero tolerance approach and issuing newsletters addressing FAQs and upcoming events.

The Minister said; “Fraud affects us all. All organisations suffer as a result and the health service is no exception. Every penny lost to fraud means less to spend on front line services meaning that the range of treatment and care we may receive is severely reduced.

“The Counter Fraud Services in BSO work in conjunction with all HSC organisations to prevent, investigate and detect fraud. I would encourage everyone within the HSC to familiarise themselves with how to report it and ask the public to ensure that they are aware of what they are entitled.

“No one is above the rule of law and I am encouraged by the work of the team in BSO working hard to recover monies lost.”

As an official supporter of this campaign, CFS joins hundreds of organisations who have partnered with the ACFE, the world’s largest anti-fraud organisation to continue the fight against fraud and help safeguard HSC resources.

Mark Harvey, Assistant Director of CFS commented that “at a time when the healthcare budget is facing significant challenges, it is important we send a clear message that fraud will not be tolerated because of the direct impact it has on the delivery of frontline services.

“Preventing and detecting fraud is undoubtedly a challenge but we hope that by increasing staff awareness and understanding of the issue, recognising its harmful impact and reporting instances of suspected fraud wherever it may occur, we can all contribute to preventing this unacceptable drain on healthcare resources.”

Examples of fraud against HSC by patients include:-

· falsely claiming to be resident in Northern Ireland to get free HSC treatment;

· falsely claiming eligibility for free or reduced dental and ophthalmic costs;

· altering or using aliases to get prescription drugs.

Examples of fraud by staff against HSC include:-

· submitting timesheets for hours not worked

· submitting travel claims for inflated milage or journeys that were not work-related

· abuse of sick leave eg working for an agency while on sick leave

· misuse of HSC resources for personal gain