NHS fraud ‘equal to its entire budget for cancer treatment’

 

The true cost of fraud inside the NHS could be more than £5bn a year, more than 20 times the official government figure, a new report has warned.

The sum – enough to employ 244,000 new nurses and equal to the entire NHS budget for cancer treatment –  is the work of a “dishonest minority” of doctors, dentists and hospital staff, according to the study.

Labour branded the disclosure “scandalous” and called for an inquiry, after research by the University of Portsmouth showed the problem is exacerbated by cuts to the number of fraud investigators and is putting patients’ lives at risk.

Scams range from medical products stolen from hospital trusts, to dentists claiming for unperformed work.

The Government’s annual figures suggest £229m may have been lost through a combination of patient and dental fraud. NHS Protect, which carries out investigations for the Department of Health, says fraud investigated in the 12 months up to end of March 2013 was valued at £24m.

But both figures severely underestimate the extent of the problem, according to Jim Gee, the former head of the NHS Counter Fraud Service.

“If the NHS was only  losing £229m a year it would be doing 30 times better than any other healthcare organisation in the world, something I  think is completely implausible,” he told the BBC  Panorama programme.

Government estimates were only “partial”, he added,  ignoring losses incurred in other areas such as payroll  and procurement.

Fears of fraud are exemplified by cases such as Dean Evans, the former manager who stole £43,548 worth of money and electrical goods – including iPads which he then sold on eBay – from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. Evans was caught when police found a notebook in his home where he had recorded how much he had stolen. The note said: “Total stolen from NHS – £33,750.”

Evans, who was jailed for  18 months last year and was paid a £35,000 salary as a learning and technology manager, submitted false invoices to the hospital trust including £4,440 for two camera lenses and spent the money he stole on gambling trips to Las Vegas.

The programme, to be broadcast tonight, also says the disbanding of dental fraud investigators and budget cuts have left the health service prone to future abuses. Figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws suggest NHS Protect has had its budget cut by around  30 per cent since 2006. 

NHS Protect employs  27 fraud specialists, with a further 294 investigators.

Mr Gee, of financial auditing firm BDO which co-authored the report, says the NHS has lost just under 7 per cent of its budget, and in some cases more than 15 per cent, to fraud.

Labour’s shadow Health minister, Andrew Gwynne, said: “Ministers must explain why the NHS is haemorrhaging billions on their watch. The Government must account to Parliament for this scandalous abuse of NHS resources.”

A Department of Health spokesman contested the huge fraud losses.

“We do not recognise this figure,” he said. “We are not aware of any published research showing how this figure has been calculated and we do not speculate on levels of losses.”

He added: “When fraud is proven, we expect all appropriate sanctions and recovery action to take place.”

Stitch-up: conning the health service

Filling in false claims

Dentist Joyce Trail made more than 7,000 false claims for dental work to fund a luxury lifestyle. She amassed a collection of  Jimmy Choo shoes that the judge passing sentence said would have made “Imelda Marcos proud”. Last October she was sentenced to six and a half years for conspiracy to defraud and a further six months for perverting the course of justice.

Enough to pay for six nurses

Madeleine Webster, 47, was jailed last month after a court heard she bought £160,000 of printer cartridges with public money before selling them on eBay. This would have been enough to fund six full-time nursing posts, the court heard.

Gambling trips to Las Vegas

Dean Evans, a former NHS manager, was jailed in December after stealing more than £43,000 from the NHS to spend on gambling trips to Las Vegas. Evans stole £43,548 worth of money and electrical goods – including iPads that he  then sold on eBay – from  University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Doctor falsified records

Thirumurugan Sundaresan, a surgery doctor in Rochdale, was given a nine-month sentence earlier this year after stealing more than £62,000 from the NHS and admitting to falsifying the records of more than 1,700 patients. He was suspended from the practice and has been referred to the General Medical Council.

Dentist invented patients

Young Jun Suh, was jailed for two years in 2012 for inventing patients and claiming money from the NHS to treat them. He tricked patients into being treated and charged privately. Investigators said half of the dentist’s payment claims raised doubts with a catalogue of “ghost claims” by patients that did not exist. He pleaded guilty to fraud and theft totalling £109,000 and was jailed.

Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreEXCLUSIVE The Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sustainability Manager

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

    Graduate Sustainability Professional

    Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

    £100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor