Exemptions to paying for prescriptions will be digitised, in a move announced by the health secretary to prevent fraud.
Under the new plans announced by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, the government aims to halve prescription fraud, which costs the NHS £256 million a year. Pharmacies will be able to check whether the patient does not have to pay charge before their medication is dispensed. The scheme will be piloted in 2019, before being rolled out across the NHS.
‘Those who abuse the NHS and choose to line their own pockets with money that should be spent on patients and frontline care will no longer have anywhere to hide. The new technology and analysis, combined with intel and experience of counter-fraud specialists will form the starting point of this new fight against NHS fraudsters’ said Mr Hancock.
‘We’re determined to make sure every penny of the extra funding we are giving the NHS as part of our long-term plan is properly spent. The message is clear: the NHS is no longer an easy target, and if you try to steal from it you will face the consequences.’
The government has said that the focus on prescriptions is one aspect of a wider crackdown on NHS fraud, which aims to prevent up to £300 million being lost to fraud by April 2020. There will be a new counter-fraud department in central government, which will bring together around 10,000 counter-fraud specialists, including 400 focused on fraud in the NHS.
‘I am delighted that the Health and Social Care Secretary is showing such a keen interest in addressing fraud and supporting the NHS Counter Fraud Authority in its vital mission to prevent and detect fraud against the NHS. It is key to our success that we collaborate with others and I am confident that as we work with partners this ambitious target will be achieved,’ said Sue Frith, interim CEO of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority.
‘The more data sets we are able to access from partners such as Cifas and the NHS Business Services Authority, the more fraud we can detect and prevent. NHSCFA are actively engaging with the fintech sector to identify technological solutions that could enhance data examination and exploitation capability.