15/10/2013

Minister Calls On Public To Help Tackle Health Fraud

Health Minister Edwin Poots has said every citizen in Northern Ireland can help to tackle fraud within the health service.

Speaking in the Assembly, Mr Poots said: "We all have a duty to counter and report fraud and corruption, wherever we work and by whomever it is perpetrated. Such activities are unprofessional, indefensible and ultimately reduce the monies available for front line services. Fraud is wrong. It is a criminal offence and will not be tolerated."

The Minister said that the true extent of fraud across the NHS nationally is not known, but that independent research suggests it could be between 3 - 7%.

He added: "It is important to recognise that the vast majority of people are honest and would not consider acting fraudulently. But cases have already come to light; clinical professionals who make claims for services not supplied; nursing staff who claim grants to which they are not entitled; senior managers who claim for journeys never travelled; support staff who undertake private work while on sick leave; members of the public who try to evade payment for treatments.

"The House has heard about inappropriate access to free healthcare in Northern Ireland where those not ordinarily resident here fraudulently use an address to secure access to free healthcare services – both within the primary and secondary care settings. This activity represents a significant drain on resources.

"Everyone has a part to play. Everyone who accesses services or works to deliver services has a role to play. It's everyone's duty to report fraud or suspected fraud, whether it be through the HSC Fraud Hotline, or through the HSC's online reporting tool or indeed through the relevant organisation's whistle-blowing procedures. Any information, no matter how small, can be of assistance in combating fraud."

(IT/JP)

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