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New initiative to tackle NHS fraud

A new, independent special health authority has been established to tackle NHS fraud. The NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA), headed up by interim CEO Sue Frith, is tasked with leading the fight against fraud affecting the NHS and the wider health service, and protecting vital resources intended for patient care.

As an independent authority, NHSCFA will fight and deter the fraud, bribery and corruption attacking the NHS. It is a centre of excellence employing specialists in intelligence, fraud prevention, computer forensics, fraud investigation, financial investigation, data analysis and communications.

Lord O'Shaughnessy, Health Minister explains: "Fraud in the healthcare system not only undermines public confidence in the NHS but also diverts valuable resources away from caring for patients - it is estimated that prescription fraud alone costs the NHS £217 million each year.
"We created the NHS Counter Fraud Authority so that for the first time there is a dedicated NHS organisation to tackle health service fraud and corruption and bring fraudsters to justice."

Initially the work of NHSCFA will focus on five areas:

  • To be the single expert, intelligence-led organisation providing a centralised investigation capacity for complex economic crime matters in the NHS
  • To support the Department of Health's strategy for tackling fraudulent activity affecting the NHS
  • To be the body leading and influencing the improvement of standards in counter fraud work across the NHS
  • To take the lead in and encourage fraud reporting across the NHS and wider health groups
  • To continue to develop the expertise of staff working for the NHSCFA

Sue Frith says: "Our creation is good news for the taxpayer, for patients and for the honest majority working in and with the health service."
Interim Chair, Simon Hughes adds: "Some of the challenges faced in this work include a limited awareness of fraud amongst NHS staff and significant under-reporting of fraud. Many people find it unthinkable that anyone would seek to defraud money meant for healthcare. Our ability to counter fraud has a direct impact on health care.

"Every fraud takes a service away from someone that needs it. This reality must be faced. We can all play our part in turning the tide, ensuring public money pays for services the public needs and doesn't line the pockets of criminals. We all use the NHS and will all benefit from securing its resources. Simply reporting your concerns is a powerful action to protect healthcare."

NHSCFA has the backing of Government, the wider NHS and many other key stakeholders. Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement confirms NHSI's support. "We will work hard to support the NHS Counter Fraud Authority. Our mission is to ensure the NHS gets the help it needs to continue to provide safe, high quality care while managing its finances effectively. Fraud in the NHS is unacceptable and is harmful to patients, staff and the NHS as a whole."

NHS Employers has also confirmed it will work to develop an open culture whereby every member of staff feels confident to report any concerns.  A 24-hour, confidential reporting line has been established - 0800 028 4060 - and reports may also be filed online by visiting