Health: Fraudbuster prescribed for NHS

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The Independent Online
The Government is to appoint an NHS fraudbuster to crack down on people who steal money destined for the treatment of patients, it announced yesterday.

The move is part of a campaign against prescription, optical and dental fraud, and follows a package of tough measures announced in the summer to counter the pounds 100m a year prescription fraud racket. Details of the fraudbuster will be announced by the end of November.

"The overwhelming majority of health professionals are hard working and honest but a few rotten apples are robbing the system blind," Alan Milburn, minister for health, said. Mr Milburn said he was "alarmed and shocked" at some of the figures involved in these cases and at the loss through prescription charge evasion, theft and forgery.

"What fraudsters are actually doing is stealing money that ought to be treating patients. My message to the fraudsters is that life is going to get tough," he added. The fraudbuster will lead a small team to help crack down on fraudulent activity the NHS. The Efficiency Report into Prescription Fraud, published in June, estimated that up to pounds 100m was lost through prescription charge evasion each year and a further pounds 15m from theft or forgery. No estimate has been be put on losses to doctors and pharmacists.