Oliver Stopnitzky from NHS Counter Fraud Authority joins us at P4H
29 June 2018
P4H England is now under two weeks away! We have an impressive line up this year, with Oliver Stopnitzky, Senior Fraud Prevention Officer at NHS Counter Fraud Authority presenting in the P4H Keynote Arena.
In the run-up to the event, we have asked Oliver about the work the NHS Counter Fraud Authority does and how it tackling fraud occurring in the healthcare sector
Can you tell us a little bit about the work which is done by NHSCFA?
The NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) launched on 1 November 2017. We are an independent health body tasked with tackling fraud, bribery and corruption in the NHS and across the wider health service. The NHSCFA is an intelligence-led organisation which investigates serious and complex cases of fraud affecting the NHS.
We also use intelligence and data to set standards for counter fraud work in the NHS and develop a range of targeted fraud prevention solutions to address identified fraud risks. Solutions may include reviewing and redesigning whole systems or developing tailored guidance or other solutions.
The NHSCFA is committed to reducing the impact of fraud and driving improvements in working practices. Our vision is for an NHS which can protect its valuable resources from fraud. The ultimate goal, as it were, is to cure the disease of fraud, bribery and corruption within the NHS, not just treat the symptoms.
How is fraud within the healthcare sector affecting procurement?
The NHS is one of the biggest publicly-funded healthcare systems in the world. Recent information suggests that NHS non-pay spend is approximately £27 billion per annum and it is clear that the procurement of goods and services is vital to keeping the NHS running.
Procurement and commissioning fraud is an issue of concern across the whole of the NHS. In a recent conviction secured by the NHSCFA, a former locksmith employed by Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust was found guilty of fraud by abuse of position and sentenced for defrauding the NHS of almost £600,000. The locksmith abused his position to commission his own company to carry out work for Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital, charging the NHS extortionate mark-ups of up to 1,200%.
The locksmith was leading a lavish lifestyle from the proceeds of his crime – money that should have been available to spend on frontline health services such as patient care, health care facilities, doctors, nurses and other staff.
What are the main types of fraud occurring in the healthcare sector and how does the NHS plan on tackling this?
Procurement and commissioning fraud is one of our organisational priority areas for this year. The others are patient charge evasion, pharmaceutical contractor fraud and driving improvement in the standards of counter fraud work. To tackle these and indeed all areas of fraud, we are first looking to raise awareness of the issues. We need to inform people about these types of fraud. We then look at the intelligence that we have and use that to inform what we put in our guidance for NHS organisations, both providers and commissioners.
At the end of 2017 it was revealed that Procurement fraud costs the NHS £252m. Prevention is key to reduce this, what can procurement professionals do to tackle this?
The most important tool that procurement professionals can use to tackle fraud is board-level support. It is essential that NHS bodies build a foundation of good governance right through their organisations. Good governance leads to transparency in procurement policies and the decisions and processes used to arrive at decisions.
Procurement professionals should champion and raise awareness of the procurement process and stress the importance of their policies to their board and staff across the health body. Purchasing that happens outside the correct procurement channels invites the risk of contract short-cuts, reduced scrutiny and the potential of collusion that would otherwise be prevented if the correct procedures were followed.
The levels of fraud reporting within procurement are very low but it is a huge area of spend and activity, crossing all sectors of the NHS. The NHSCFA estimates that in 2015-16, the loss to procurement fraud was £252m. It is therefore important to raise awareness of procurement fraud so staff are able to spot and report instances of fraud through the right channels.
We are happy to announce the relaunch of guidance documents on prevention and detection of “pre-contract procurement fraud and corruption”, and “invoice fraud”. These guidance documents will shortly be published on the NHSCFA’s website. Procurement professionals should read, implement and promote this guidance.
Your organisation is speaking at this year’s P4H event, why is it important for the NHSCFA to attend this year’s P4H event?
It is important for our organisation to meet with procurement experts and people in the sector to raise awareness of what is happening in the NHS and healthcare service in regards to not only procurement fraud but NHS fraud in general. We need to be having those conversations with people in the sector and we need to work collaboratively to help tackle fraud, bribery and corruption. It is a billion pound problem, so we need to be engaging with everyone and anyone who will listen, especially those who work in the sectors that are particularly affected.
Secure your place at P4H 2018
Don’t miss Oliver Stopnitzky’s “Procurement Fraud in the NHS” training session which is taking place in the Keynote Arena at 12.50 on 12 July 2018.
Tickets are complimentary for public sector delegates and cost only £95.00 for the private sector.
Book now and join 1,400 delegates at NEC Birmingham on 12 July.