Department of Health and Social Care
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New powers to tackle fraud

New powers to tackle fraud

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release (2007/0196) issued by The Government News Network on 12 July 2007

A consultation was launched today which will determine how new powers to tackle fraud will be used. The government is consulting on a new code of practice to set out how NHS counter fraud and security specialists should obtain documents from individuals and contractors effectively and appropriately.

The powers, granted under the Health Act 2006, set out how NHS fraud or security investigations can be boosted by asking individuals or contractors to provide documents that could contain evidence. Failing to provide documents as requested, or giving misleading information could result in up to a two year prison sentence or a fine.

The powers will help combat financial losses to fraud in the NHS - however, it is necessary to ensure that the powers will be used in a way that does not disrupt patient care.

Of particular importance is the need to protect patient confidentiality and ensure that any information obtained is used only for progressing investigations into fraud and security breaches. The code will also ensure the information is kept secure and not misused.

The proposed code of practice is the result of consultation and dialogue with stakeholders - individuals and organisations will have a further opportunity to comment on the code of practice over the course of the consultation.

Dermid McCausland, Acting Managing Director of the NHS CFSMS said:

"We are committed to an NHS with the lowest possible fraud and the best possible security, and we believe the new powers will help achieve those aims. NHS counter fraud and security management specialists will be able to obtain essential information that will be invaluable to the investigations they carry out.

"We have worked closely with colleagues and stakeholders to ensure that the powers will be used with sensitivity to the needs of patients and staff and the consultation will be valuable in gaining the views of interested parties."

Notes to editors

1. These powers were granted in the Health Act 2006, and will mean there is less need for the police to search premises and seize documents.

2. In May 2007, the NHS (Wales) Act 2006 came into force, and the powers in the Health Act 2006 are now found in the NHS (Wales) Act 2006 (Part 10, sections 143 to 158). In Wales the powers relate only to countering fraud and not security management.

[ENDS]

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