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Fighting the fraud; Health Reporter HELEN RAE finds out why help is needed to tackle NHS fraud.

Byline: HELEN RAE

FRAUD fighters in the NHS are asking Tyneside residents to help in the battle against fraud.

As part of NHS fraud awareness month, which runs throughout June, local counter fraud specialists are urging anyone who suspects a fraud is taking place in the NHS to report it.

NHS Fraud Awareness Month (FAM) takes place across the country with the aim of educating anyone who uses or works in the NHS about how damaging fraud can be and to highlight some simple things that can be done to stop it.

Since FAM began in 2003, local NHS counter fraud specialists have been helping to spread the simple message that fraud is a drain on valuable NHS resources.

While only a tiny minority of people defraud the NHS, their actions cost the NHS hugely - it has been estimated fraud is costing the NHS about pounds 115m per year.

Types of fraud and offenders vary - those who steal from the NHS through fraud may be patients who avoid paying prescription charges by falsely claiming exemption from fees, staff claiming pay for shifts they did not work or contractors falsifying records of work.

The NHS Counter Fraud service pursues appropriate sanctions - including legal action - against anyone who defrauds the health service.

Patrick Canner, local counter fraud specialist for North Tyneside and Newcastle Primary Care Trust's and Northumberland Care Trust, said: "The NHS belongs to all of us and we can all help to ensure the public funds of the NHS are spent where they belong.

"It's important we make it clear to the dishonest minority that fraud against the NHS will not be tolerated." Dr Mike Guy, medical director for NHS North of Tyne, reiterated Patrick's words and encouraged members of the public to report any suspected fraud.

He said: "Fraud against the NHS is not a victimless crime. Every penny that is defrauded is a penny that could have been spent helping patients.

" That's why I would encourage anyone who is concerned about a fraud taking place to contact the confidential fraud reporting line." Anyone concerned about a fraud taking place within the NHS can: Call the freephone confidential NHS fraud line on 0800 028 40 60 ( Monday to Friday 8am- to 6pm).

Contact Patrick Canner on 07990 587 246.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 8, 2009
Words:394
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