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NHS Counter Fraud Authority supports International Fraud Awareness Week 2020

18 November 2020

INTERNATIONAL FRAUD Awareness Week 2020 – which began on Sunday 15 November and runs through until Saturday 21 November – is a great opportunity for raising awareness around the problem of fraud perpetrated against the National Health Service (NHS). That being so, the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) is once again in full support of the initiative.

International Fraud Awareness Week is an annual campaign kick-started by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in the USA to raise awareness about fraud. Initially it was aimed mostly at business leaders, but the campaign is now supported by both public and private sector organisations all over the world.

It has been something of a momentous year for the NHS – and, indeed, the health sector in general – since International Fraud Awareness Week 2019 took place. Not surprisingly, the anti-fraud week is seen as being more important than ever in 2020, with the NHS needing every penny at its disposal to be used for patient care during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In support of the initiative, the NHSCFA – which is the national level body leading the counter fraud effort for the NHS in England and supporting it in Wales – has distributed a suite of materials to all allies in the fight against fraud throughout England and Wales, not least at the local NHS level.

Sue Frith, CEO of the NHSCFA, has stated: “At the NHSCFA, we understand that people throughout the NHS are putting in a stupendous effort to deliver care and check the spread of COVID-19. That, of course, can make it hard to give the usual level of attention to fraud. With the help of our resource materials, I’m calling on all NHS organisations to play an active part in International Fraud Awareness Week and amplify the year-round message that we cannot let criminals undermine what the NHS can deliver for patients.”

Awareness resources

The NHSCFA has provided the aforementioned range of new awareness resources to help NHS bodies develop their own newsletter articles, press releases or other content designed to support International Fraud Awareness Week.

Over 110 NHS organisations supported International Fraud Awareness Week publicly last year, many of them using dedicated campaign resources specifically developed by the NHSCFA in order to do so.

Anyone with a genuine interest in countering fraud can join in: NHS employees, contractors, agency workers or volunteers in any NHS or related organisation in England and Wales (or a related organisation of any kind, from a Trade Union to a professional network and on again to a small informal social group). Local Counter Fraud Specialists, nominated fraud champions, NHS communications professionals, directors of finance/chief finance officers and audit committee chairs are all playing their part.

Fraud in focus

The NHSCFA’s focus for International Fraud Awareness Week in 2020 includes tackling mandate fraud, procurement fraud and recruitment fraud, but all the while it’s recognised that all types of fraud against the NHS require continued vigilance and a good level of awareness. This is based on recent fraud trends identified by the NHSCFA and its stakeholders, but conditions and priorities will inevitably vary depending on the health body.

While the NHSCFA’s clear focus is the protection of NHS resources from fraud and related economic crimes (which is the core remit of the NHSCFA), International Fraud Awareness Week is also an ideal opportunity to spread the word about how individuals can protect themselves from fraud.

The focus for frauds against individuals includes phishing and investment fraud. One example of this is the NHSCFA’s ‘Don’t get hooked by phishing criminals’ banner, a reminder that work e-mails as well as personal ones can be targeted in acts of cyber crime. Criminals will try to deceive individuals and make them their stepping stone towards accessing NHS systems.

To evaluate the success of the International Fraud Awareness Week 2020 campaign for the NHS and the wider health sector, the NHSCFA will use social media monitoring and the data analytics of its public website and Extranet, as well as qualitative feedback from colleagues and stakeholders.